Added Apr 05 2012
I'm happy to share a great victory with you today: The Landmark Commission just voted unanimously to bestow preliminary landmark status on The Portage Theater. This change will protect the building's facade, lobby areas and theater space from alterations until the city completes a longer and more extensive study.
This is an important step in the effort to preserve this community anchor, and I'm proud of all the work we've done in the past few weeks to get this safeguard into place. So many of you stepped up to help research the building and its history, as well as get the word out about the possible alteration of this unique slice of Chicago's past.
I also want to thank the folks at Preservation Chicago, who designated the Portage as one of their Seven Most Endangered Chicago Buildings. In addition to their support for the historical status of the theater, they also note that Chicago Tabernacle's plan to convert The Portage to a house of worship will "take it off the tax rolls and could jeopardize the nascent economic revival currently occurring at Six Corners. Despite major community opposition, the Zoning Board of Appeals will soon be considering whether to grant the church a Special Use Permit to operate in the Portage Theater space."
As Preservation Chicago wisely notes, the landmark status will protect the building, but not its use. The Zoning Board of Appeals lists Chicago Tabernacle's Special Use Permit request on their April 20 agenda, and I hope you can come out to City Hall that morning at 9 am to voice your opinion. Also, Chicago Tabernacle has now submitted the required paperwork to go through our community-centered zoning review process. We will be sitting down with church representatives next week as part of that process, and the church will present their plans to the community shortly thereafter. I will keep you posted as the situation unfolds.
Thank you for your continued community engagement.