Portage Theater granted preliminary landmark status
Today brought a new development in the ongoing saga of the possible purchase of the Portage Theater. As Ald. John Arena (45th Ward) announced, the city has granted the cinema portion of the building preliminary landmark status. There will be a further review process over the coming months, but the new designation should protect the theater and its facade from renovations for the time being. It doesn't prevent the building from being sold, Arena says, but "anything that they do is going to be monitored more closely."
In theory, the restrictions could make the property less attractive to the Chicago Tabernacle, the church in negotiations to buy the space. "I hope that this sends a message to them that the city wants to protect this asset," Arena adds. He notes that his office has already suggested alternative spaces, including a property across the street from the YMCA at 4251 W Irving Park Rd and the former Belpark Theater at 3231 N Cicero Ave, which he says is comparably priced. "There are other options for them to come into our community, and do it in a way that's going to be a net benefit for everyone involved," Arena says. "That's a win for everybody, and those are rare in our world right now."
I left a message with the Chicago Tabernacle but was told the Rev. Al Toledo likely wouldn't get back to me until next week because of Easter preparations.