Be a better neighbor. Sign up for EveryBlock to follow and discuss neighborhood news.

Sign up for free →

Added Mar 09 2012

In September 2011, I was approached by the leadership of the Chicago Tabernacle seeking my support for the conversion of the Portage Theater to a church. I offered to have them present their plan to my office and follow the established zoning review process. Declining, they asked that I weigh in before they invested time and money in pursuing a building use that I might oppose. After consulting the Six Corners Association and local community groups, I issued a letter opposing the requested use but made it clear that we would welcome the congregation to our community. I directed them to alternate locations that might suit their needs.

Despite my letter, Chicago Tabernacle continued to pursue the purchase of the building. To date, we have not received the documents needed to begin our full zoning review process. We learned last week that they intended to file with the Department of Zoning for a special use permit allowing them to operate the historic Portage Theater as a church. Yesterday, the permit notification was posted per city code.

I also requested and received from the Department of Zoning the changes proposed for the theater. They are extensive. Chicago Tabernacle plans to remove the theater marquee, eliminate of more than half of the apartments in the building and evict of many established businesses in the storefronts. They also propose interior changes that could significantly impact the character of this historic theater.

Let me say loud and clear that I am not opposed to the church moving into our community. I will continue to seek a resolution that benefits both Chicago Tabernacle and our community.

The loss of this historic icon in the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District would reverse years of planning and development. The historic Portage Theater can serve as an economic engine for that area. As we prepare to present our case to the Zoning Board of Appeals, I ask that you share your thoughts by emailing

  • Inactive user

    So the owner already has agreed to sell to them if they can get approval? Or is this all just exploratory?

  • th I've been in the 'hood a long time.

    Does the Chicago Tabernacle realize the impact this would have on the several years of planning? Are they opposed to a community meeting to see how the neighbors feel about this?
    There are a lot of questions to be addressed. As we try to attract restaurants to the area and most of these restaurants survive by serving alcohol, is there a restriction on how far they need to distance themselves from a church?

  • Jo

    This is un (expletive) believable! This is the first I heard of this. I am absolutely against any church taking residence in the historic Portage theater!!!! First, we had Warshauer, then the Unity church which had a screaming tv outside of the theater telling people they could cure them of psychological conditions and bused in people NOT from the neighborhood to be cured, and now we have this facing 6 Corners???? I am absolutely disgusted! Enough with churches occupying commercial spaces. Sounds a little bit further along than exploratory...Sept 2011?!

  • Dirk Portage Park

    What is the possibility of getting landmark status for the theater? This would impede the physical changes that would drastically modify the character of the building.

  • Dirk beat me to it.

  • Father Greg God knows what you did...

    John - I'm on board with you!
    Let me know how I can assist...
    Is the building for sale, generally, to anyone?
    Are the owners looking to offload?
    Are the owners underwater?
    What is the current Bid?



  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    We just went through this process in Old Irving last year. A congregation wanted to buy a former warehouse, and applied for a special use permit, because the bldg wasn't zoned for church services.

    As far as the Portage Theater, I'm not a zoning attorney, but:

    It's my understanding the Tabernacle Church has put in the only offer on the Portage Theater to date. Anyone can make an offer, buy it if the offer is accepted, and use it for whatever CURRENT zoning allows.

    If a tenant or owner wants to hold church services, however, they have to apply for and be granted a special use permit. The matter gets heard by the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals), which is different than the Zoning Committee of the City Council.

    The Tabernacle Church has filed that request; the earliest it would be put on the ZBA agenda is late April.

    So, if anyone's got $2.5 million, now is the time to buy a movie theater!

    In the meantime, send an email to the 45th Ward with your sentiments:

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    @Jo--anyone can file for a special use permit, as long as the bldg owner agrees. We had a potential business, a hookah lounge, file for one even though it didn't even have a signed lease for the space. Building foreclosed, no lease was signed, bank owner put the bldg up for sale, special use permit application became a moot point.

    Landmarking--sadly, Chicago's landmarking ordinance doesn't have much teeth. The Portage Theater is rated "orange", for whatever it's worth. That offers a small measure of protection for the building itself. It does not apply to the theater marquee, since it's not integral to the structure of the building. I'm sure others on EB know more about the landmarks ordinance than I do.

  • gps

    Just sent my email to the Alderman's office. This change could really deaden that area...what can be done to save this gem and turn this area into a vibrant corridor with ice cream shops, restaurants and shops? Look at Southport around the Music Box...that are wasn't always like that. The Portage has really interesting programming not found in other spots around the city, we can't lose it!

  • Dirk Portage Park

    Thanks Anna. But the building does not have official landmark status, correct? I know a few preservationists and will see what they have to say also.

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    Only official Chicago designated landmark I could find at Six Corners on the city's list:

    Peoples Gas Irving Park Neighborhood Store[251], designated March 18, 1987, 4839 W. Irving Park Road.

  • I used to take my kids to the Portage years ago where we marveled at the amazing architecture. I worked at Six Corners years ago at the GNC on Irving when it was a bustling area.

    Now, I'm not against any church, but this simply doesn't belong in this area. Do they realize how difficult parking will be on Milwaukee? I seldom go to this area any more, but will we see double parked cars and illegal parking by patrons of the church? Will they overflow into Sears' parking lot and those close by while creating a traffic jam?

  • Big Oaks Big Oaks resident since 1979

    This just makes me sick. This whole 'church' thing is just asking for trouble. The Skokie theater was at least saved from becoming a 'church' and still will be used for plays, music, etc.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    What an awful idea. The Portage is one of the gems of this area. It's something that can be a cornerstone in bringing more business into the area. I'm sorry to have to say this but it's true: Storefront churches make an area look poor and unappealing.

    I honestly thought the people who ran the theater owned it. Had no idea it was up for sale. How sad it will be if this goes through. Big blow to the Six Corners area.

  • Big Oaks Big Oaks resident since 1979

    It has been on the market since August 2011. Price is $2,750,000. Property tax is $77,130

  • Jo

    @Tom Hanigan. This is the huge implication 500 feet. Can't have a restaurant serving alcohol within that distance from a church.

    A public meeting has to be called. Someone needs to call a public meeting at the theater and ask the church to come and present its plans for the bldg to the community. Then someone needs to present the pros and cons of having a church in this location. Save this beautiful bldg! It is an incredible asset to Six Corners and our community.

    So much time has been lost and if another week goes by without the community doing something then Six Corners business district doesn't have a chance. We have to tell our neighbors and others in the community what is going on (not that I know the entire story), but what we know so far, and call/write Ald. Arena.

    Talk to as many people as you can and get them on board with doing something about this.

  • There's a PPNA meeting on Monday night: 7:30pm – 8:30pm at 4839 W. Irving Park Rd. It would be a perfect venue for this concern. Or ask Phil (the new President) in advance if this can be added to the agenda.
    The website contains contact info.

  • dd

    I have recently seen two actual churches that are for sale

    one is on foster just east of milwaukee and has its own parking lot

    and the second one is on lawerence just east of elston

    maybe someone could let this church group know that they have for sale signs on these two locations

  • Blake Capritola Dog Walker, and observer

    This theater has a hectic overwhelming schedule. How can it even be possible that a business with a lease, running a business of that LARGE scale, can just be booted out by new owners of a building. And why in gods name (no pun intended) would anyone approve a change of what is happening there now? THOUSANDS of people come to six corners for shows at the portage theater, they eat at las tablas, they shop at sears, they snack at burger king, Why stop that and put a church in??? And here is the biggest question no one has asked yet. Who the he$$ do these people think they are!? It's not very christian like to invade a peaceful environment tear it to shreds, and build a church on it...

  • Dirk Portage Park

    More info on the history of The Portage Theater. And a great picture of the original marquee here.

  • Do you suppose it would hurt to contact Chicago Tabernacle directly & express to them that you hope they do not take over the theater?

  • clarification on above comment (this wasn't directed at Alderman Arena)
    "Does one suppose... one hopes they do not take over the theater.

  • Cynthia Resident Since 1988

    I did a bit of volunteering at the alderman's office and after the volunteer work I know he is a great guy. Of course I was just answering the phone and editing a newsletter. (aka Cynthia...long story)

    As a volunteer I didn't know this all was going on. But I can tell you he has our best interests at heart. So, we need to ask him, how can we help? We can email him at

  • 6 Cornered Living glee at the klee.

    Alderman Arena: Please do whatever you can to keep the the iconic Portage Theater a world class movie/performance theater, and do whatever you can to keep this church out. The Portage Theater is the flagship for the future of any six corners redevelopment. I am not against churches, but this is NOT what the Portage was designed for, nor what it should ever be turned into. I am will to start a grass roots efforts to do whatever I can to keep the Portage as an entertainment venue that caters to everyone regardless of religious affiliation!!!!

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    I don't get why these "Churches' come into neighborhoods and take over.what neighborhood do they come from.Why do they buld up where their parishoners don't live I presume.
    The take over these little churches on side streets,hold mass or meetings 3-4 times a week and take up all the parking,all night.Just like the Polish Church on Irving near Menard.The traffic gets screwed up and they take over the whole neighborhood of parking,even though they have one bg parking lot for it.They use all the lots and streets around the area.
    This is very sad to hear.They would be taking away more of our neighborhood character.

  • Agree 1000% with Chicago Girl about the former commercial property on Irving Park that was converted to a church. Havoc on the side streets for a 6 block radius around here every Saturday night and half the day on Sunday and more. This place is NOT a good neighbor, and most it's congregation is very bluntly, arrogant with a sense of entitlement.

    As for the Portage Theater, I could imaging the problems this would cause in that denser area at Six Corners.
    This would just sink any chance for Six Corners commercial revitalization.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    What I think is sad, is that it is for sale to begin with. While there might be enough public outcry to stop this church, there is a great likelihood it could be something else in the near future. I wonder if the the current business is a profitable one? I just Googled Biograph, I wondered what happened to that space and I see it is now occupied by a theater company. That would be nice!

  • Jan

    This is INSANE!!!! This has to be stopped. Those of u who live in PP know how hard PPNA worked to stop the tear down of the beautiful building on the SE corner of Milwaukee & montrose as well as stopping a curb cut on Milwaukee by the Klee Building.

    If u live in PP then u need to support PPNA. The monthly meetings MIGHT have a dozen people but hundreds show up for the July 4th parade AND the only time neighbors get actively involved is when there is a "threatening issue" such as this. We need to have a public meeting ASAP but most importantly is to not stop there!!!!! Go to the meetings, get involved in some small way, show thy u care about the viability of Portage Park. John Arena the alderman has been active in PPNA since the beginning. He really truly cares about PP. He will work on stopping this from happening BUT he can't do it al

  • Jan

    Alone. We have great opportunity here in PP. The rib feat last year was wildly attended. This year should be even better. Please please give up some of your time neighbors and I can promise you that it will be well spent time!! Portage Park needs the theatre for sure!!

  • Ms

    Taking away the Portage would be a misguided, sad event. The area is sparse as it is. As someone who works in the area I have seen the crowd that comes only for movies and events. Why mess with something that isn’t broken? There are many, many, empty buildings around that area for sale and a few actual churches down the street.

  • Considering that Chicago Tabernacle sounds like a "rapture-ready" doomsday church (see "What We Believe -God's Plan For The End Times"), they may not be what one could regard as a tolerant neighbor.

    "God's Plan For The End Times: We believe the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again as He promised and will rule and reign on this earth. History will conclude as the wicked are judged and the righteous enter a new heaven and a new earth."

    "The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of all Christians, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on the earth for 1000 years..."

    "There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead (those who have died without accepting Christ's salvation) will be raised and judged according to the way they lived. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life (the recorded list of people who received Christ's forgiveness), together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be sent to everlasting punishment in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (sulfur), which is the second death..."

  • Alex in Old Irving Park Green Building Guy

    While I'm all for adaptive building re-use, a church in an area which already has high-traffic and very limited parking on weekends seems like a poor idea. From the building owner's perspective, a $77k tax bill is tough to swallow if the majority of the rent comes from a theater. Theaters (especially older ones) simply don't generate the kind of income they used to and are quickly becomming extinguished. The landlord would be hard-pressed to raise rent in hopes he/she would get it, or chose not to renew a lease in hopes a better tenant would come along. If we, as a community, want to encourage 'smart' urban renewal, we should persuade our legislators to offer temporary, conditional tax incentives and easier zoning initiatives to targeted building owners who are stuck with commercial properties, have low-rent tenants (or no tenants) who may offer services which are deemed by the local community to be of high value. That way, the owners can afford to offer more attactive lease rates to perspective tenants who would bring those desired businesses, and the local community would ultimately benefit. ABC's of urban planning.

  • Barry Kaufman Famous singer & King of the Monsters

    There are essentially two vintage movie palaces in Chicago that show revival films, not just Hollywood's latest and second run. The Portage and the Music Box, and The Portage is not only essentially 100% revival house, but it is affordable for all to rent and show films for special occasions and such. In addition, it hosts specialty film gatherings, monthly monster movies many of which have children's activities AND is a major attraction in the area. Hundreds of people go to these showings and frequent nearby businesses (including me).
    Understanding that revenue is the city's main interest, as the continuing buzz of revenue parking bees reminds us, I am not optimistic that the city would choose a theatre that shows old movies over a wealthy religious organization.
    The addition of another church in favor of such a unique and publicly accessible venue is just another nail in the coffin of Chicago's uniqueness, and a steo towards continuing pasteurization of America's cities.

  • Inactive user

    Well a church won't be paying the $77k in property taxes because if bona fide they get an exemption.

  • maybe they can compromise and show davey and goliath fims

  • A religous group just bought an arts center in Wicker Park, There's a meeting on Monday about the eviction of the arts tenants.

  • Queen of Insanity

    A Facebook group has been started as well.

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    The building owner wants to retire, and noone in his family wants to run it. The property includes apartments, offices and storefronts on Milwaukee Ave., as well as the Portage Theater. Most appear to be leased, so there is a steady revenue stream. The movie part is leased as well. Love Alex's ideas above. Here's hoping someone who wants to preserve the theater & facade puts together an offer.

  • I checked out the link that Gene provided, and I have to agree with his questioning of their tolerance.

    What has been their impact to the community at their present Berteau & Troy location? Are they good neighbors?

    And what kind of spiritual organization feels the need to require a "security team"?

  • Jo

    Yes, I heard one of the owners wants out. I believe there are 2. It's fine that they want to sell it, but not to a church.

    Alderman Arena had the opportunity to block the zoning, so what happened?

    I was not a big fan of Ald. Levar, but he would never have let this get that far, and it concerns me that Ald. Arena has. This has serious implications to the commercial development of 6 Corners, and could be its demise.

    In fact, the previous church was shut down because 2 people from the community notified Ald. Levar's office about the situation. They spoke with the security firm that was next to the theater at the time, and received more information about the busing in of people on school buses at 10a.m. A small tv was set up outside of the theater showing screaming people speaking in tongues or exorcisms of their demons? Very disturbing for kids to be walking by. The movie projector was thrown in the garbage and later retrieved by a business owner who saw it. Many seats were ripped out etc...So attend whatever meetings you have to, and keep in mind, community activism starts with the convictions of one, and what you want to do. Continue to let your neighbors and friends know so they can support for our precious gem, the Portage Theater.

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    @Jo--I've been on the community side of zoning for the Old Irving Assn. for about 15 years. Have testified both before the ZBA and the Zoning Committee of the City Council numerous times. Plan to go testify in this matter also, against the granting of the special use.

    No alderman "had the opportunity to block the zoning", as you say above--this does not require a zoning change, which an alderman has some influence in.

    There is a process businesses can go through to get an exception to the existing zoning. They can ask for an exception from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Every property or business owner has the right to ask for this, and noone can block them from asking.

    At such hearings, the ZBA hears testimony from the business seeking the special use permit--why an exception should be made. The ZBA hears testimony from neighbors, businesses, groups, the alderman, who can either support the special use, or argue why it should not be granted. That's the public part.

    Best thing everyone can do now is organize, protest, email, etc. in a rational manner. When the actual ZBA hearing is scheduled, people have to go downtown and testify, or submit letters and sign petitions. It's grassroots democracy. You cannot deny the business owner their day in court, per our current laws.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Jo. Your post is contradictory. In one breath you want us all to come together to solve this issue, and in the next sentence you seek to drive a stake between everyone. Stop it! We need to come together, and baseless accusations will only polarize our community, weakening all of our options.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    This was recently Tweeted by Roger Ebert. There is a growing momentum to save this theater beyond our community. Keep spreading the word everyone.

  • Allie Bal


    This property has been up for grabs and the subject of arguments since I moved back to Portage Park in 2000. Why can't the Ward find an operator such as the people who operate the Davis or the Patio and restore it to a main stream movie theatre rather than the off the wall theatre it has turned into. I suggested this to the Portage Park neighborhood association ten years ago. I told Gerard I would investigate the possibilities -- I was ignored. We also need to recruit business along that strip. Ten years into this six corners renovation - what is the problem?

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Mary. The Portage Theater has been successfully offering a wide range of entertainment to the city since it reopened in 2006. This isn't about the management, it's about one of the owners deciding to sell. Please read earlier posts in this thread.

    I'm not sure what happened 10 years ago, but I sure hope it's not stopping you from emailing the Alderman your support of keeping the theater and joining the Facebook page.

  • Allie Bal

    It has been a wide range of uninteresting "entertainment" Dirk.

  • Allie Bal

    You cannot compare the quality of the movies shown at the Music Box with those of the Portage. The Portage shows "B" movies.

  • Big Oaks Big Oaks resident since 1979

    I would not think twice about forking over $25 for a 'Smokey And The Bandit' movie marathon night. Some of the money can go towards the Manager BUYING the theater outright. Maybe the owners are willing to sell the theater apart from the rest of the building. There must be a way to isolate the theater in a real estate sense so the focus can be on the theater itself. (No offense to the rest of the property)

  • Cynthia Resident Since 1988

    The davey and goliath films comment was funny. Nice to see us keep a sense of humor.

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    One more question.If a church does take this over,are they suppose to provide parking for this big of a place?Are they really going to pay for meters for the hours they are here parking?Or will they take all the residents parking and leave them screwed?Then they will start taking over the Chicago free city parking lot and have no place to park for the other shoppers or even the people that frequent places that are usually busy like Las Tables Steakhouse.Oh yes,I can see the residents with nowhere to park when they get home and the light at 6 corners backed up for about 6 or so lights to get to the corner.Not good.I wouldn't even want to walk around there if there were hundreds of people piling out and get stuck in the gridiron.

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff.
  • Jan

    Take a look at the church on Irving Park just west of Menard on a saturday evening or sunday in am and pm. They are crossing the street at all points, double parking and it is a nightmare!!!!

  • Jan

    I think that there wasn't a meeting with the Alderman and you are mistaken. Before you point fingers, check your information please.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Mary. It seems to be a difference in taste. The Portage Theater hosts revival films (Northwest Chicago Film Society), many of which aren't even available on DVD. Silent Film Festival with live organ accompaniment. Musical acts programmed by The Empty Bottle. Monster movie marathons and comic book shows. Tonight there is a hip hop act playing. And, for Chicago's thriving independent filmmakers, they offer one of the most affordable venues to rent for local movie premieres. Programming at the Portage is some of the most diverse options available anywhere and would sorely be missed if this deal goes through.

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    I agree Jan.I would hate to live around there or have a business that needs available parking for their customers.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Lleon123. What meetings? This makes no sense. The senior building is way off topic. The Portage Theater? The church just submitted the offer. That is why the alderman made this public. I'm sure there will be some public opportunity for this issue, but until then, email the alderman's office and tell them why you want this building saved.

  • Jan

    YEP Dirk, that is what I am saying. Before judgment is made, go to the source and get the truth. Rumors spread faster than wildfire. Truth seems to lag much behind that. I am extremely confident that John Arena would NOT have done or do what was suggested.

  • Inactive user

    The Alderman said "After consulting the Six Corners Association and local community groups" he did not consult with our neighborhood association and we are closer than most any of you to this. Why would one not reach out to the hundreds of people here who would be supportive. Not everyone is on everyblock Dirk. I only joined today looking for information about the shooting behind Parkway Bank on friday.

    I wonder why they were not interested in the Bank of American building? Alderman Arena did you steer them away from the B of A building because that has parking too and would be perfect for them. You have been trying to protect the B of A theater why did you over look the potential of what was happening here at the Portage Theater? There is a correlation to the senior building. He claims the senior building would bring revitalization to Six Corners and was a down payment on success yet we can not even keep a historical theater here.

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    Since Alderman Arena started this thread,I am sure he will see all of our comments.

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    @LLeon123-Where and what happend at this bank?Didn't hear of anything.Thanks

  • "Despite my letter, Chicago Tabernacle continued to pursue the purchase of the building"

    maybe they did not get the message.

    let's make sure we all let them know they are welcome in the community, but not to steal our theater away from us.
    you can't rob peter (portage park) to pay paul (chicago tavernacle), peter has been robbed already and is ready to stand up to paul.

  • Inactive user

    I would like to see a copy of the letter written to them. What did it say?

  • MilwaukeeMania Negative Nancy

    Oh no! Joined the "Save the Portage Theater" FB page. Copied is a FB post from one of the guys running the Portage Theater business, Mark Goles:

    "There is an owner of the entire building consisting of the apartments and stores from Cuyler and Milwaukee down to and including Elite Bartending School. The managing directors lease the Theater the same way the other business owners lease their storefronts. the managing directors OWN The Portage Theater as a business and corporation.

    So the current owner of the ENTIRE building has had the property on the market, and Chicago Tabernacle expressed a great interest in it which includes gutting the Theater including it's managing directors, staff, patrons etc.

    Can they do this? Yes, they can purchase the building and do whatever with it. Until it comes to getting permits, zoning changes etc with the city. It's a complicated and not very nice situation for a honest hard working business owner to be in.

    And the theater isn't the only element in danger in this situation, there are 36 apartments with hard working down to earth people, disabled folks, and enterpreneurs starting out. As well as a few other businesses. Everyone would be kicked to the curb. A lot of lives would be impacted dramatically in order for them to have a place to praise. Just sayin."

  • Naprapath Works at Lakeshore Integrative HealthCare

    I would highly recommend the community hiring a zoning attorney to get expert advice. For example, Gary Wigoda or Wigoda and Wigoda would be an excellent choice. Not only is he a top zoning attorney, but he also is highly involved in his own neighborhood association - so he knows how important things like this are to a neighborhood. His info is: 444 N Michigan Ave Ste 2600A, Chicago, IL 60611 and phone is 312-263-3000 in case you need it.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Getting your letter or email that states you don't want a church in that building, to the alderman is extremely important. If you disapprove of a church taking over the building get an email or a letter to the alderman. If you have friends, neighbors and relatives who disapprove give them the info below too.

    The email and US Postal snail mail address can be found here:

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    Sending in my email now, and spreading the word via my other networks. (Welcome back, Kenji!)

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Thanks TheAnal.



  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    It's theanalogdivide, Kenji. Get your mind out of the gutter.

    /on topic: Should there be an organization (a 501c3 or somesuch) devoted to preserving one or both Portage Park theaters? I know next to nothing about arts administration, but I wonder if some kind of membership/patronage program can help improve either venue's sustainability projects. It'd also be a way for chumps like me (i.e., those folks with small children, who can't ever leave the house to do anything fun, ever) to show their support even if they can't attend an event.

  • Would it be worth our while to put together a proposal/suggestion to C.T. with possible locations for a new facility. We could offer to work with them, sit down, find out what it is they are looking for exactly (size, location, parking, zoning, visibility, adjacent rental units - it could be that they want something with storefront & aparatment rental income for example). Surely there must be a realtor among us that could put in some time to see what's out there. I believe I can get access to the MLS & am (or at one point was) fairly familiar with the site, enough to do a thorough search. Perhaps CT's experience with the Alderman was less than positive, and that's why they seem to be uninterested in working with him? And, perhaps they would be interested in working with the actual community folk to find a good fit.

    I'm able to put a few hours of work into this.
    anyone have any ideas?

  • Frankly, I don't see them as being interested in worrking with any alderman, except one that just says "yes". And the only people they likely will be sitting down with would be attorneys.

  • ok, then forget it Bill. I guess it's hopeless & we're all screwed

  • kenji Find us here -->

    "would be" is probably inaccurate. Rest assured "they are" sitting with competent legal advisers right now.

    What this needs is for all those who have any stake at all, even previous Arena non-supporters to step up. Drop the politics and everyone and every group here in and around Six Corners band together to work for a common cause.

    Once everyone is successful they can get get back to the politics, whether you support Arena or don't support him.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    I spoke with one of my contacts at a landmarks office in town and the Alderman has already been in touch with them, they are looking at options. I'll post more as I get more info.

    As kenji says, do the right thing here everyone.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Question - if Alderman Arena has said he will not agree to a special use permit, and you need a special use permit to have church services - doesn't that sorta end this discussion? Or is there a supreme court zoning committee that could override local decisions?

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @MIssy, the answer is yes the zoming committee could override an Alderman's wants/wishes. That's why Chicago Tabernacle would hire the best lawyers they can find.

    If you wanted the best in Chicago you'd hire William Banks.

    I wonder who they are using?

  • I wasn't suggesting that "all is hopeless Duggan..... Our course of action ("the process") has been laid out by Alderman Arena and neighbors with experience in zoning. There are established community groups such as PPNA & SCA that also will play an essential roll in that process.
    Why not, as others suggested, come together & connect with them?

  • Curious as to how deep their pockets are......

  • kenji Find us here -->

    I heard Chicago Tabernacle is selling their building on Troy for 1 million, the Portage building is asking 2.5 million, the Portage building probably needs 1 million+ in work.

    From my tiny circle of friends no one we know, knows anyone who attends Chicago Tabernacle so we don't have a clue to their financial ability.

    Anyone here have any connection to Chicago Tabernacle?

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Yowza - just read Wiki entry on Banks. Let's hope they don't have endless cash to spend on expensive lawyers.

  • MilwaukeeMania Negative Nancy

    @Missy--according to some of the posts above, this goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which is not connected to the City Council.

    Former Ald. Banks' nephew Jim Banks is a very well connected zoning attorney. Hear that's who the church has hired.

  • MilwaukeeMania Negative Nancy

    Here's a description of what the ZBA does and who the members are from their website. This the panel that hears special use permit requests:

    The Zoning Board of Appeals reviews land use issues that pertain to the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, including proposed variations from the zoning code, special uses that require review to determine compatibility with adjacent properties, and appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator. Established in 1923, the board has five members that are appointed by the Mayor with City Council consent. Staff services are provided by the Zoning Ordinance Administration Division of the Department of Housing and Economic Development. Meetings are held on the third Friday of every month, usually at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., in City Council chambers.

    Members Appointed

    Jonathan Swain, Chairman
    Lori Healey
    Geraldine "Gigi" McCabe-Miele
    Lynette Santiago
    Sam Toia


  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Ok - now I understand. Is emailing Alderman Arena the only form of public outcry? I realize this all just happened and I am sure he will tell us if we need to get signatures on a petition.

    I don't get it. If they did in fact hire big shot attorneys, they are hunkering down for a battle. Why are they doing this? They know they will not be welcomed by the community at large. Is the real estate price so attractive it's worth the fight?

    Talk about bad karma (different religion I know) - but seems to go against the spirit of a church.

  • odette 22-year resident of 38th ward, stay at home mom

    Saw the "Save Portage Park Theater" facebook page and I see that there is a post regarding zoning board member Lynette Santiago being a pastor. Is this a conflict of interest?

  • Inactive user

    Maybe if Fantasy Costumes puts some devils in the window it will scare them away.

  • So, is it a fact that CT is working with one of the Banks attys?

  • kenji Find us here -->

    CT has some Yelp reviews. Generally speaking I don't give much credence to Yelp whatsoever but thought it was worth giving out the URL because of the details.

  • Amy in AP Family mediator

    Apparently CT is affiliated with Brooklyn Tabernacle. Here is their website:

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    @Odette-You would think so.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    City of Chicago Bureau of Planning PUBLIC NOTICE sign was placed in the window of the property recently. I snapped a shot of it tonight. Also looks like William Banks is their attorney.

    here's the signage:

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Correction on the attorney info. The signage says James Banks, phone: 312-782-1983.

  • Inactive user

    That location is obviously not appropriate for any church, but if you Google Chicago Tabernacle and Topix you can see there is much controversy about Brooklyn Tabernacle, the church from which Chicago Tabernacle arose and is run by the same family. These are pentecostal megachurches, and some former members complain about the pastors' lavish lifestyles with multimillion dollar homes and other financial issues.

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    No surprise there Jake

  • Jeff Park Scott 5000 Block of West Argyle St

    Please, no churches at that location. We need to figure out a way to keep the theatre there. You put a church in that location and you will lose what is left of the businesses on that block. We need more Portage Park Theatre's and less churches.

  • Advising that the issue that not how they conduct their worship, as we do not want to provide an avenue for appeal on 1st Amendment grounds.

    The grounds for our objection should be based on Zoning & use restrictions placed on other commercial development in proximity to a religous institution, Loss of Property tax revenue, The loss of Sales & Ammusement Tax revenue. The lack of parking & the detrimental effects this would place on the nearby residences.

  • agreed Bill. I wished after commenting that I could remove the comment. I was up way too late last night.

  • The Portage Theater!/ebertchicago/status/178620136645861377
    Twitter / Roger Ebert: Chicago has countless chur ...
    Chicago has countless churches but not enough theaters like the very special Portage. Help save it.

  • Alex M. Jeff Park, web design, DJ, thinker

    If one had to shut down the Portage as a theater, I can understand (but I wouldn't like it). However, a church there is just wrong It's a shopping/commercial area. I don't care how many storefronts are empty, and if they have to go playing games with the city to get a zoning change, then obviously it's not right for the area and they should look elsewhere.

  • Please understand that I was not singling out anyone's comments regarding this institution Duggan, and really nothing has been posted here that could be considered irrational. :)

    Some areas in the Western suburbs have had legitimate zoning & quality of life concerns about similar land and property use. The debate at the official public hearings quickly degenerated into heated commentary by some in those communities. That in turn diverted attention from the issues at hand to Constitutional issues, and that hurt the cause of the majority that was opposed to the the zoning change request.

    I'm certain that Alderman Arena will keep focused on the real issues here.....

  • David Chartier Content Strategist, Writer, Tech Distiller

    Beyond emailing the 45th ward office, I'd love to hear about what else we can do to prevent this.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    There's a Facebook group to join as well. Does anyone know who started that group? I'm happy to make a website too.

    My wife and I are going to tonight's PPNA meeting. I don't think this topic will be on the agenda, but we can certainly discuss in new business. Anyone else interested? We could have a quick meeting afterwards and talk about next steps. I think people are shell-shocked, feeling helpless, and not sure what to do. Let's get organized and start something.

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    Bearing all this in mind - and keeping it perfectly explicit that the issue isn't with the church as an institution - what other measures can we take to make our voices known? Talking to Arena is an important step, but it can't be the only one. I'm just spitballing here, but here area few possibilities:

    A. Contact the church. Their website lists 773.583.7344 as a phone number and as the email form. Keep it respectful, and stay on topic regarding the importance of the Portage as a keystone of the community.

    B. Contact the attorney. The public notice lists 312.782.1983. Again, keep it respectful, but if people make it clear that pursuing the Portage is not worth the effort, he might discourage the motion. If there's a way we can identify Banks' other clients, that might also help maintain the pressure. (If it works for campaigns against talk radio advertisers...)

    C. Contact the press. Roger Ebert tweeted about the Facebook group, and it received a notice in Gapers Block, but the pressure needs to be maintained. It'd be impossible to create a space like the Portage from scratch. Stress that element in your comments.

    D. Contact other buyers. This is a long shot, but there are theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin (TX) that promote the same kind of esoterica that makes for the Portage's stock in trade. I know there are others out there. Maybe someone's thinking of expansion.

    E. Support the Portage! Go see a movie, or buy tickets for an event.

    Any other ideas?

  • I have been tweeting up a storm, to tell others who may not be in EB or FB what's happening with the Portage Theater. If you have twitter accounts, please do the same.

    I add the alderman's email in the tweet so everyone can write. Hash tag the Portage Theater, Alderman Arena, anything else that can help to trend this message.

    I'm sure any other social media or traditional methods to spread the word would be beneficial.

  • Inactive user

    Maybe the Admiral could use a second location (just kidding).

  • Contacting Banks will do no good. He is being paid by the prospective buyers to represent them, not the community. And based upon his track record, he & his firm could care less about our opinions.

    The Chicago Tribune did a 1st class investigation in 2008 of how Zoning is used and abused in Chicago.

    Included was this...,0,2583410.story

    It may be unsatisfactory, but the Trib also gave suggestions on community involvement.....,0,6850574.story

    This is part 1 of this expose, with links to the rest in the LH sidebar....,0,7299892.story

    Incidently, this WILL be THE topic at tonight's PPNA meeting.

    Monday, March 12

    7:30pm - 8:30pm

    4839 W. Irving Park Road

    People's Gas & Coke Building

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Bill. Thanks for the links. When I clicked on the last link, my eyes went right to the menu at the Portage Restaurant. It must be lunchtime.

    I stand corrected. Anyone going tonight?

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    Please, please, please, continue to preserve that wonderful theater and building. I attend the Portage Theater on a regular basis. It is an historic building and is offering that neighborhood the cultural shot in the arm it needs. Gordon Tech has their plays there. The Silent Film Society of Chicago is based there. They show matinees and Wednesday evening classics that many people attend including our senior citizens. Can't they find some building where the store fronts are not in use? That is and can be the cornerstone of what may be the renaissance of that once vital district. Why take a viable cultural gem like that away from us?

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    Let's get Preservation Chicago involved in this.

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    In case you haven't seen it, Chicagoist has a thorough write-up on this, that also mentions this thread:

    If you've reached this conversation via Chicagoist, welcome! Try the salmon.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Thomas. They are already involved. I believe the Alderman has been in touch with them. No further details as of yet.

    Landmark status would be difficult. The original structure was changed when they renovated the building and put up the latest incarnation of the building. They made significant changes mid-1900's to make the building fit in with the Klee building and the Sears. My unofficial guess is that they would only receive any landmark status if all three buildings are involved, which would make Six Corners an historic district. I don't know if we have time for that, but it sure would be nice.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    Sorry, that should read 'current incarnation of the marquee'.

  • Nothing like a crisis.....or a contentious election to pique my interest...... ;)
    Committed to being there tonight.

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    One of the aspects of Lincoln Square that makes it vital, viable and a "neighborhood" is the Davis Theater. There are restaurants and fun boutique shops surrounding it. It is a "place to go". What a joy it is to be able to stay in the neighborhood to see movies instead of going to some bland multiplex out in Generica USA. And mind you, the Davis is not a classic movie palace like the Portage.

    This can happen at Six Corners too. But if we allow this destruction to happen I really think it will be the nail in the coffin of a district that is ripe for cultural opportunities.

    I have been going to the Portage since I was a kid. I saw Ben Hur there. I now take my daughter there. We need our history. Our cultural and architectural heritage is vanishing because of profit-minded, short-sighted factions that ignore what makes this a city of neighborhoods.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Thomas. A similar thing happened to Lincoln Square about 10 years ago. The Davis Theater was being sold and was to be torn down. This was the spark the community needed to energize and helped Lincoln Square become what it is today.

    Here's to a happy ending for all of this.

  • Inactive user

    With the Portage and the Patio maybe we can designate a mini Theater District.

  • @Thomas: Your post that began - 'Please, please, please, continue to preserve that wonderful theater and building...' could be your letter to the alderman! Perfect sentiment and valid points.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    I'm very curious what the Davis did (love that theater!). If the owner wants to sell - what can we do (meaning, there might be enough grief over a church, but how do you stop the next potential buyer that wants to gut it to make a restaurant?). Did somebody that was looking to run a theater buy the property? Probably a good case study.

  • DollyMama Old Portage Park since 1993

    I am going on record with the rest of the comments. Having lived in this area for almost 20 years this makes me physically ill to think that the theater can be destroyed. It has to be stopped, that entire block is an eyesore as it is and the congestion is horrible. I don't see how this can be approved without the community's approval.

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    Any kind of church in that spot, (and I am a Christian) would not help that stretch economically practically speaking. And that's what needs to be addressed all sentimentality aside. As was pointed out there are many locations where this church could relocate without a negative impact on the neighborhood.

  • Robert Murphy local booster, active neighbor

    So I have seen a photo of the posted notice which lists Chicago Tabernacle above the address, but as I understand it from this thread and elsewhere, they do NOT own the building. They want the zoning changed before they buy the building. How does one file for a zoning change on a property they DO NOT OWN? Thought it needed to be the building owners to do that; has the building already in fact sold?

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Cut from this page: Interesting!

    In late 1999 the theater was set to be sold to developer Jim Jeager, who, rumor had it, planned to demolish the property and build condos. Within weeks a ?Save The Davis Theater? campaign started. Over 500 people attended a community meeting at Sulzer Library opposing development of the theater. 47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter told the Sultzer Library meeting he would support the campaign.

    Jeager, who needed zoning approval from Ald. Schulter to develop the property, walked away from the deal before 1999 was over, and the Davis was back on the block.

    Soon the non-profit Davis Theater Preservation Corporation, led by community members Sharon Woodhouse and Mary Edsey, sprang up to purchase the building. The building was ultimately sold to Special Real Estate Services in January 2000. The Davis began to show first-run movies again.

    The theater changed hands again in late 2005, when it finally came to the current owner, Tom Fencl, who professes a love of old theaters and has, ?no plans to change anything.”

    The theater is operated by Value Theater Corporation, said Fencl, a company that specializes in distribution to small theaters across the company.

    ?It?s all about volume in the movie distribution business,? said Fencl. Because Value manages small theaters across the country, ?they?re able to leverage that,? to get good films and lower prices.

    Hopefully the Davis will see more stability in the years to come.

  • Inactive user

    The Davis also was partitioned into those tiny shoebox subtheaters to make it more economically viable. .

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    So was the Portage for a while if memory serves.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    RobertFG - this is normal for commercial real estate. They clearly have a contract with the seller and the sale is contingent on zoning approval.

  • Correct Thomas Gianni....the economic and fiscal impact would be negative and huge.

    Besides the hindering further development of the Six Corners Business district, there is the issue of property tax revenue, as property owned by religious institutions is excempt. And it would simply not go unpaid or lost, but would instead be transfered to the rest of the area's property owners.

    Then there would be the loss of sales & entertainment ticket tax dollars generated by the theater, as well as sales taxes generated by the other businesses that would be slated to be evicted.

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    Wow! Bill the Engineer. I didn't even think about those aspects. Let me know when you run for mayor. You got my vote.

  • More great points by everyone! Let's keep spreading the word.

    That Reader article mentions the PPNA meeting. I'm guessing turnout will be greater than usual tonight. ;-)

  • Make your (our) voices heard. Email the Zoning Dept......

    Managing Deputy Commissioner/Zoning Administrator: PSCUDIERO@CITYOFCHICAGO.ORG

  • @Bill, we're all good, I didn't think I was being singled out by anyone at all. I asked Becca to remove my 2 comments from the middle of the night, when I wasn't using the preview feature. I didn't need to say as much as I did here online. Not that it was anything big really, but I was glad to have it removed.

    I'll try to be there tonight, will have a couple kids or 3 with me though.

  • Sorry, I meant a different article, not the Reader. The Huffington Post has written about our cause:

  • dd

    i was out and about today the old jewel at Belmont and Pulaski is for sale.

    also on Howard east of Crawford 15 acres no buildings on this property

  • Email Ald Tim cullerton too: What's good for six corners is good for the 38th ward.

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    Does anyone know if there should be petitions going around?If we start some,we can make ourselves heard even better.
    I heard the Logan Show did recently reopen.

  • i can't see a church that would deliberately move in to a place that they are not wanted.
    maybe they are looking for an... um donation to help them look for another place.

  • Good to see a substantial crowd at the PPNA meeting last night.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Hey Bill - was there any new info provided at meeting?

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @chicago girl. They are working on petitions. First they want to make sure they have the right verbiage to make the most impact. Stay tuned.

    @Bill. We should have had a special button for Everyblockers to wear to identify ourselves. Where were you sitting? We were in the last row. About 50-60 people showed up? Biggest turnout in awhile.

  • Hi Missy!
    Alderman Arena gave insight into the process as it goes before the Zoning Board of Appeals, & correcting the misconception of what's been happening prior to his announcement of this pending sale last week.

    The gentleman that started the Save The Portage Theater FB page was there, and he revealed his conversation with the associate pastor of the church. That was extremely enlightening. There is more going on than purchase of a building here. There is an agenda.

    Again though, Alderman Arena stressed the need to focus on the economic and cultural impact that the loss of the Portage Theater would have on our community, and city as a whole.

  • the right of the young lady from the Northwest Chicago Film Society.

    I'm pleased that PPNA has finally expanded it's boundaries to include ALL of the Portage Park community.....

  • Amy in AP Family mediator

    @ Bill, Can you say anything more about the agenda you mentioned?

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    @Amy--I think we all have to remember that this is a public forum that anyone/everyone can read. A simple Google search will point you to this thread.

    If I were a zoning attorney or entity applying for a special use, my staff would be monitoring what's said here. Especially since this EB thread has now been mentioned in various mainstream media.

    It's best to focus on the facts.

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    Bill be careful what you say on this forum. Best we discuss this "agenda' in private. I happen to agree with you on the by the way.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    More info from last night's meeting:
    - Since Friday, the Alderman's office has had approximately 250 emails about this issue. Only 2 supported the church, the remainder were supporting the theater.
    - The person who started the Facebook page was there. He said 1,000 people joined since this weekend. I'm guessing it might be about 1,500 by this morning.
    - Petitions will be drafted if it looks like they will help. If they are necessary, more info will post here.
    - No zoning date set. Once it is scheduled, info will be posted.
    - Big turnout last night. Most people stayed after to talk and connect.

    Wednesday night at the Portage the Northwest Chicago Film Society is screening the 1946 Otto Preminger film Centennial Summer. More info about the film here. Would be a good chance to experience this gem and show support.

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    Nice to see so many of you at the meeting. Sorry I couldn't stay after to chat - I had to get home and put the baby to bed. But I joined PPNA so you'll likely be seeing me around. We can do this.

  • Yay @theanalogdivide, and everyone else who took the time to come out last night! It was great to meet everyone and see the love. ;-) Looking forward to working together with all of you. tad (see above) is right - we can do this.
    It may be an old quote to some, but never more true as now:

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    -Margaret Mead

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Given the parking situation in the area, couldn't the potential for enormous parking problems be a deterrent to issuing the permit for special use?

  • AOB64 Resident

    Step #1. Petition - get someone to draft a petition get lots of signatures it will help to also post an electronic version on Facebook, Cinema Treasurers (Portage Theater) and everyblock.
    Step #2 Ask everyone to write letters to the Dept of Planning and Development Commissioner Andrew J Mooney (1200 plus likes on Facebook speak loud but 1200 letters coming across your desk speak LOUDER! here is a clip from his bio: Andrew J. Mooney has served as the Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Economic Development (HED) since November 2010. Under Commissioner Mooney's leadership, HED promotes economic development by helping existing businesses grow and by attracting new industry to the city. The department also leads Chicago’s affordable housing, housing preservation and community-based homebuyer assistance programs, as well as the city’s zoning, land use planning, sustainability and historic preservation initiatives.
    Step #3. Ask everyone to send those same letters to each and every one of the appointed members of the Zoning Board of Appeals they will be the ones making the final decision on this matter: Jonathan Swain, Chairman, Lori Healey, Geraldine "Gigi" McCabe-Miele, Lynette Santiago, Sam Toia and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Again 1200 likes on Facebook speak loud but 1200 personal letters sitting on your desk speak LOUDER!
    Step#4. Someone needs to meet with Preservation Chicago. This IS NOT the same as Landmarks. Preservation Chicago and Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois were instrumental in helping us save the Klafter Bldg at Montrose and Milwaukee and the Klafter Bldg is also rated Orange. When everyone else had given up the fight Preservation Chicago and LPCI stood tall and side by side with us in the fight to save this lovely bldg.

  • AOB64 Resident

    Step #5 Everyone should plan on attanding that ZBA hearing check the agenda online frequently.

    Finally know that even if this is approved by the ZBA it is not necessarily a Done Deal! We saved the Klafter Bldg even after the zoning changes were voted on, approved and finalized. The Portage Theater is worth fighting for!

    Bill, you're spot on...The grounds for our objection should be based on Zoning & use restrictions placed on other commercial development in proximity to a religous institution, Loss of Property tax revenue, The loss of Sales & Ammusement Tax revenue. The lack of parking & the detrimental effects this would place on the nearby residences. that should be put in the petition.

  • Dirk Portage Park
  • Barry Kaufman Famous singer & King of the Monsters

    Excellent points a big turnout at the ZBA hearing is vital. In fact, if we can foresee a reasonable crowd in support of the Portage, we can get some media coverage. In addition to sending letters as AOB64 has suggested, e-mails are effective (although not as effective as a physical document).
    Finally, attend the programs at the theatre! Spread the word to as many folks as possible.
    MARCH 31st there is a showing of Universal Horror Classics, starting with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (perfect for kids), 3 more films like the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi
    and a John Carpenter action film to end the night.
    I am going to attempt to have media coverage of upcoming events at the theatre to show that the Portage is vital despite what Rev Al Toledo asserted in the ChicagoTribune today.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    The old Belpark Theater at 3231 N. Cicero has over 2,000 seats (operating as the Golden Tiara). Would still give the cinematic experience the church is looking for. Question is, would they sell or move?

  • I

    For the people that don't actually live near the Portage Theater itself, you should know that the apartments connected to the Theater are a mess. I am not sure who manages the building and is in charge of finding renters but they obviously do not have any care in the world for the Portage Park community. Filth and more filth is what has filled the apartments.

    Most if not all the tenants are convicted felons. Police have conducted search warrants on some of the apartments and have recovered illegal narcotics and pistols from the apartments. Known Latin King gang members have recently moved in. Roughly two months ago tenants from the building committed a Armed Robbery to a Taxi driver on the block and fled into their apartment. Both were caught and arrested. Many of the tenants are also narcotic users (Heroin & Crack). I myself have personally called 911 on multiple occasions to report when these tenants are purchasing the narcotics in the alley by the dealer who is nice enough to do home deliveries.

    The front and back of the building is consistently covered in garbage. People use the back area as a hiding place to drink, smoke, and argue during all times of night. Hallways are filled with holes in the wall, garbage, and graffiti. It is not well maintained at all. It also appears that they may be renting single rooms to people (SRO).

    I ask you to actually drive by and take a look at what this once beautiful building has become. How are we suppose to care about the building when the owners and tenants of the building don't even care?

    Maybe this Church won't be so bad. It may actually help clean the building out and lessen the crime that is taking over the area. It may bring actual good people who care about the area to the area.

    I am not necessarily for the Church taking over, I am more so for the Church cleaning the building up.

  • @ IP.... if your account of the residential tennants is accurate, any new owner (besides the institution seeking it) may clean that situation up AND keep the theater intact and operational in it's present form.

  • Ben 6 Corners

    IP is right. For those close enough to smell the drugs burning, this could very well be a positive.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @IP typed this: "Most if not all the tenants are convicted felons"

    OK, I'll be the first here to call BULL#$%&!

    We've seen this kind of BS here before and it won't be the last. A new person shows up on EB and their first post ever,and without any history of comments here, is a huge sweeping , abusive, angry diatribe.

  • AOB64 Resident

    It would be helpful if IP could forward that post to the Aldermans Office who could check into these concerns and address them.

    As for the sale of the building, The Portage Theater Bldg which includes the Theater, a large rehersal space above the theater, apartments and store fronts sits in the middle of a TIF district which also happens to be an SSA (Special Service Area) I believe SSA #28. Please read up on what SSA's are and what they do to better understand the importance of maintaining this piece of property as commerial/residential mixed use and not tax exampt as is typical for a church or religious institution.
    SSA-funded projects typically include but are not limited to: public way maintenance and beautification; district marketing and advertising; business retention/attraction, special events and promotional activities; auto and bike transit; security; façade improvements; and other commercial and economic development initiatives. Many of the programs, improvements and special events that have been done at Six Corners over the past few years and the numerous others in the works are a direct result of the TIF and SSA both of which are funded by a portion of the property tax income produced by SSA and TIF distric.

    Have you ever heard of the Six Corners Association? Here is a copy of their website...they are the oganization that brought you the Monster Film Festival, RibFest, the new lights/sidewalks on Milwaukee , the banners hanging from the new lamp posts and on and on ...are busting a hump everyday to get the word out about Six Corners.

    If the income produced each year from these districts are reduced then so will be the services provided or the financial load will be shifted to the other nonexempt businesses - a burden some of these struggling businesses may simply not be able to maintain.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    The Alderamns' office? Really? What would the alderman's office do to help?

  • Inactive user

    These "all the tenants are criminals" posts could be originating from those with a vested interest in the church coming in. Just sayin'.

  • According to @IP, a favorable option is to obliterate a cultural icon rather than find a new owner to keep the Portage going and possibly clean up the apartments (if indeed they need it - going strictly by what was said in one post). Apartments are rented to former convicted felons all over the city. Some are less clean than others.

    This is an extremely indolent reaction to the possibility of razing a theatre in favor of a church that clearly does not belong near this vital intersection.

    In the meantime those of us who are committed to saving the Portage will keep 'fighting the good fight' by writing the alderman, attending the ZBA meetings and using other methods to avoid losing this beloved landmark for the 45th ward.
    For those interested, I noticed another FB page that is covering this - the Theatre Historical Society of America:

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @Jake, it could just be our normal run-of-the-mill EB kooks too. We saw the "those apartments house criminals!" posts before, a few months back. I didn't do a goog search to connect who had posted the same theme a while back. Maybe they had their account banned and started a new account?

    Welp, that's what makes this place FUN!.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @kenji. Troll hunting could be a new Olympic sport. So far, you've earned a gold medal.

  • Inactive user

    I do think EB attracts an inordinate number of people who got up on the wrong side of the bed or forgot to take their meds and just want to spew. Some of the rants are amusing, but some are vile.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Hey the whole world is now wathcing this thread. It's getting prickly in here today. Let's stop with the noise and let the thread get back to it's theme, OK?

  • I don't recall this ever being brought up as a concern at Beat 1624 CAPS meetings. The Portage Theater lies with those boundaries.
    If the police and the community are not even aware of a problem, how can it be corrected?

  • I

    I have lived on this block for 22 years. I have never heard of "EveryBlock" until someone posted this thread on FB and brought it to my attention. I am not posting on this site to have a High School argument with anyone. I am posting to bring to everyones attention the problems with the area and point out that change is sometimes good.

    @Bill the Engineer:

    1) Like I stated before, I am not necessarily for the Church but I am for someone else owning it and cleaning it up. Whether it is a Church or someone else is fine with me. I want the current owners out because they obviously have no care for the community.

    2) I have spoken to multiple beat cars, tact cars, and Sergeant's. I am not blaming them. There is a manpower shortage on the Chicago Police Department that is effecting the 16th district the most out of any other districts. Chicago shifts their man power to the so called high crime areas and they leave 16 bare. We as tax payers should be angry about this. I haven't been able to attend a CAPS meeting because I work afternoons. Although I also argue that CAPS doesn't really solve much either. Having a beat car drive through the block and pull an event number does not solve anything. An outdoor roll with only 6 beat cars does not show force but actually shows the lack of force our district has. The only way to fix this is to have Inspectors and the buildings people involved. If they fine the owner enough, then maybe he will clean it up.

  • I

    I have spoken to the Alderman's office multiple times. They came out and helped me with the graffiti problem on the block. By help, I mean they called graffiti busters to come out an clean it. I brought to their attention the problem with the Portage Theater apartments and I was informed that Alderman Arena knows who's running the Theater and that they are "good people". My complaint was not about the Theater but about the apartments that are in the Theater. They were no help with that. I also complained about the "Irving Park Hotel" which has a huge narcotic problem. They informed me that they currently had meetings set with them and they were trying to clean it up.

  • I

    @Babette & Kenji:

    I know there are convicted felons and Section 8 all over Chicago now but why in the world would I want to live next to it. I don't like the fact that I have to constantly scan my surroundings when I am walking to and from my car. For the amount of money I purchased my building for and the amount of taxes I pay on it, I should not have to live next to this.
    I hope you realize that this is where crime begins for an area. The problem buildings are the start of it.

    1) Portage Theater Apartments
    2) Irving Park Hotel
    3) Large yellow building on the 4800 Block of Belle Plaine
    4) Large tan and brown buildings across the street from Dickinson Park
    5) 2-3 of the yellow 3-Flats across the street from Dickinson Park

    In a matter of 10 years, there has been a domino effect. It went from one building to the next and next.

    If you live near this location then you should know and agree with me. If you have ever taken your kids to play at Dickinson Park then you have seen what I am talking about.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @IP, you can't just come here and make a grand sweeping statement that everyone in those buildings is a "convicted felon" and expect to have any credibility. And now you are telling us we're like "high schoolers"......That's not very respectful nor will it gain you any respect as a new poster.

    maybe take it down a notch or few, and present some facts, not just using a bunch of things you've perceived in your 22 years of being here.

    BTW...what block do you live on? I've been on the 4100 block of Laramie, and here on the 4100 block of LeClaire, since 1985. I have friends who live over in those buildings and spend time there.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @IP, you're taking this thread off it's best course. Feel free to email me to talk more about your recent topics. My email is in my profile info. Anyone else is welcome to also.

  • I

    @ kenjI:

    4900 Block of West Cuyler

  • Thought I chime in. Another possible resource is the Silent Movie Theater out in Los Angeles. For a long time, they would only screen silent movies. In 2006, new, young owners purchased it and now have turned it into something similar to what our Portage Theater has become since 2006. Interesting coincidence, huh? Anyway, here's a link to their site. Maybe we can get someone interested in helping the cause! I do know that special events, such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, release parties, etc. take place at the Silent Movie Theater, which help pay the rent. In fact, one of my good buddies got married there in 2004! Maybe if the Portage theater encouraged similar events, it would go a long way? I know that the Silent Movie Theater is in a nice area of LA, close to West Hollywood. Very trendy and hip. Obviously, the Portage has that aspect working against it.

  • @ IP....Valid concerns that merit it's own topic.

    Fire up that keyboard....

  • chicago girl Resident in Portage park for over 38 years

    FYI-4900 cuyler-
    Not that this doesn't happen all over.Just seen this today.I noticed the address in the post.

  • Yes please, let's keep this thread on topic. VERY important. As Kenji mentioned, backing up facts go a long way in the world of EB. Thoughtful discussion prevails.

    Many of us have already stated in numerous posts why the theater should be saved, so I would direct your attention to some of the URLs you've seen regarding its history and place in the world of cinema. When Roger Ebert starts talking about it and newspapers are picking up the story, you know this isn't idle, wishful thinking on the part of a few people.

  • AOB64 Resident

    IP. As a former resident of the area (Dickinson Park) and a HUGE fan of the Portage Theater I would agree with you on the somewhat problematic residential situations in some of those bldgs you have mentioned.

    However, the Portage Theater Bldg simply cannot be sacrificed for just any development it is imperative that the right development occur there for the Theater, Shopping District and Community to prosper. It is and will hopefully continue to play an intregal roll in the business the area attracts and the redevelopment of the Six Corners Shopping District The Monster Film Festival was started to feed off the droves of people who lined up each and every year for the month of October along Milwaukee avenue to shop at Fantasy Costume and then went home. Coupons were given to people to visit local restaurants before the movies or brought in a receipt from a local business. What was created was a better global understanding of the Portage Park area. As a result of this new people who never heard of Portage Park came there, ate there, attended movies there, got married there and some even moved there. That, along with tax revenue is what the Portage Park Theater brings to Portage Park. It would be a tradegy to see this all fall apart now just as the wheels have just been firmly placed on the bus. That wonderfully vibrant and diverse theater is the economic engine that will help revitalize Six Corners.

  • Rebecca ❤ Hyde Park. ❤ Portage Park. ❤ Chicago.

    Marc — it's great to see the Silent Movie Theater mentioned here. (It's now known more popularly as Cinefamily, see their website: )

    They're an inspiration for anyone in the business. It would be great to see the Portage take some leaves from their book. (They're closer than many already).

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    @ Jake

    You wrote "That location is obviously not appropriate for any church, but if you Google Chicago Tabernacle and Topix you can see there is much controversy about Brooklyn Tabernacle, the church from which Chicago Tabernacle arose and is run by the same family. These are pentecostal megachurches, and some former members complain about the pastors' lavish lifestyles with multimillion dollar homes and other financial issues".

    Do you have any proof or links?

  • Inactive user

    Yes Google those terns and you don't need a link. There is a Topix article with many comments by former members. Proof? I never claimed to have personal knowledge.

  • Cal Portage Park resident


    you said, "I know there are convicted felons and Section 8 all over Chicago now but why in the world would I want to live next to it. I don't like the fact that I have to constantly scan my surroundings when I am walking to and from my car. For the amount of money I purchased my building for and the amount of taxes I pay on it, I should not have to live next to this."

    I think you are exaggerating a bit. Yes there are problems but the answer is not giving up on the theater that can draw people other than "covnicted felons".

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    @ Jake, OK I will thanks

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    Not sure if parking is really going to be an issue as some suggested. If i recall there is a parking lot on W Cuyler and Milwaukee and also one a block away on Laporte. Sunday monrnings would not really be an issue for the businesses. But they do have church events at night and if they have special events that might cause major parking and traffic problems. But that is not the issue. This building is a historic landmark and to destroy it for the purpose of a church does not seem right. The Alderman is willing to work with them so I do not see why they cannot meet halfway?

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    Very detailed story in today's Nadig Press: "Buyer wants Portage Theater" by Brian Nadig. Not online until next week. Buy the paper copy for 50 cents at City Newstand (new plate glass windows going in now), Jewel, other local stores. Or someone can ask Brian if he'd be willing to post it, this one time.

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    They're discussing this on WBEZ right now, and comparing to what's happened with a church takeover of the arts space in Wicker Park. Here's the preview.

    The archive should be up soon. Will post link if/when it appears.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    @ Jake,

    I checked out the Topix post you mentioned and see nothing but a bunch of babblings that have nothing to do with the Chicago church so not sure what that has to do with this.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    @theanalogdivide please do let us know. thanks. the more people who know the more support. Has anyone thought of a rally in front of the theater or on Sunday in front of the Chicago Tabernacle to let them know how many people are really opposed to this move? A peaceful one of course. Occupy Portage :)

  • Inactive user

    You have to spend some time, not a few minutes, there are thousands of posts and some do discuss the Chicago Tabernacle and its pastor. In any event it is just background info that may shine a light on their resources if they choose to fight the neighborhood opposition. That location would not be appropriate for any church. Note that the Brooklyn Tabernacle converted a much larger theater (4,000 plus capacity) and has over 10,000 members.

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    Some kind of public showing is vital, but it's important not to come off as directly antagonistic of the church. Probably the best thing to do right now is to pack the seats. If anyone's going to the theater, be sure to take pictures of the crowd. It's important to show just how many different groups make use of the space.

    I've been mulling over sending posts to some of the larger web communities that might be sympathetic to our cause. Movie nerd sites, places like Boing Boing and Metafilter, and so on. Still trying to figure out how to present the information, though. Will submit soon.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @jake, your email isn't available via your profile. I'd like to show you something.

  • Inactive user
  • Cal Portage Park resident

    @ theanalogdivide. I am with you and I will gather support to attend events at the theater. My Occupy Portage was tongue in cheek :). I am not for violence or attacking the church. They have a right to gather and purchase a building. Just seems that this building is not the right one and if the church is coming to Portage to serve the nieghborhood they are not starting off on the right foot.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    I believe Dennis is looking at having a rally at the Portage Theater. Will post more when it comes available.

    No need to squabble about the credibility of this or any church here. Regardless of their history or denomination, we need to remember the following points:

    - Thus far, the community has spoken against the modifications to the theater. This would affect the unique and historic architectural features.
    - Additional concerns have been raised about how this would change the economic development of the area.
    - Concern about loss of access to this location for the community. The church has stated in an article previously posted on this forum that they would have entertainment via chorus and plays. This excludes cinema and popular music (Empty Bottle series) that has made this a unique venue for the entire city.
    - Parking is a question, with 800-1,100 parishioners causing congestion along an already congested corridor each service they hold on a Sunday.

    Thus far, the potential buyer is stating that their vision of the theater and the Six Corners area is right for the community. This vision contradicts 99% of what has been stated in this and other forums.

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    Just to throw in a thought the church could use to angle against the parking congestion concern they would cause. I believe their current church uses shuttle busses with a remote location parking. If they look at using something similar for Portage Theater, this could nip that argument.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Chris. Yes, it would solve the parking problem, but raises the issue of people from out of the area being dropped off and picked up, not patronizing businesses. This does nothing for supporting the economy of Six Corners and Portage Park, and eradicates this as a resource for our community.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Is there any other cases in the US where a large church has come into the center of a reviving urban retail/business district and increased the economic development and future retail and entertainment potential by their presence?

    If there is it would be interesting to see the details and how it has played out over time.

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    @Dirk: I think you misunderstood my point. I am 100% against the use of the Portage Theater as a church, I've been following this thread since Monday, but didn't have anything to contribute. The point I was trying to make is the congestion problem can be easily nixed in a hearing by this church through their continued use of a shuttle for their congregation.

    You are dealing with zoning lawyers, a church with money, and plenty of followers at hand to call upon for organization when needed.

    Be very focused and anticipate every angle they will use to contradict your argument. That is all I'm trying to add.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    @Chris. Wasn't being confrontational, just riffing off of your point.

    Yes, the church/zoning angle could very well use this tactic, but the community's response is that there is nothing in it for the community. Alleviates one problem while creating another.

    Agreed, we need to look at all angles and am sure those that will meet present the case on our behalf will have these in mind.

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    Dirk, I never thought you were being confrontational, keep up the good, hard work!

  • guys, this being public with of our points, well, maybe it doesn't really matter, but wouldn't it be preferable to have this be more closed?

  • Inactive user

    It's all about transparency lol.

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    Another thought:

    I was thinking about the mentions in the Trib and the Nadig articles regarding how the theater managers are attempting to put an offer together. (The Trib quotes Arena saying that the operators "have been trying to put together an offer," while the Nadig paper says "the theater's management team has submitted its own offer to buy the theater and add a jazz club to it.")

    I'm a librarian, and many libraries in the area have Friends groups that serve to raise funds and perform other acts of boosterism. Would it be possible to create a friends group for the theater, or possibly the nascent film scene in our neighborhood? Not sure what the legalities would be given that the Portage (and potentially the Patio, as they're just as much in need of our support) are both for-profit entities, but if there's a way to further formalize community activity, so much the better. Especially if the effort to protect the theater goes viral, as the kids say.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    Jake, I took your advice and read throught that Topix board. WOW! who are these people? There are serious complaints about gross financial misconduct. Fist fights, the pastor stealing a members social security number and collecting thousands of dollars, using church funds to renovate the personal homes of the pastor and his son in law who happens to be the pastor trying to buy the Portage theater. Sounds like Rob Blagojevich for heavens sake.

    I think that Portage has a fight on its hands. We really do not know who we are dealing with. The topix forum says that he was removed from two churches, one in Nebraska and one in Brooklyn. Allegations are that when he was asked to leave the Nebraska church his Father inlaw who is the pastor of the Brooklyn church took him in to cover up the scandal. Then he had "nock down drag out fight" while he was a pastor at the Brooklyn church and I guess was asked to leave there as well?

    "Did he tell you that the reason he left Brooklyn Tabernacle, was because he had a knock down drag out fight with his brother in law Brian Petry in which church security had to break it up and it was kept silent. Did he tell you about he and Chrissy's stint in Nebraska, the reason they left there was because they couldn't get along with the folks there, where the Pastor there asked them to leave and to cover it up Pastor Cymbala told everyone how God had called both of them to leave Nebraska and then the Chicago situation arose. "

    I am sure if we dig deeper we can find more disturbing information. I think this is important as well. Do we want this kind of church in our neighborhood? Sucking the pockets of our neighbors dry?

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    If the Chicago church has the backing of the Brooklyn Tabernacle things could get ugly. From the information on the Topix forum the claims are the church is decietful in its financial practices? These are just allegations from a Topix forum, but they should be investigate to see if they are valid. If they are, then we should be aware of who we are dealing with. Again I cannot speak with authority since I am only reading whats on a public forum, but it should spark our interest to find out what type of church we are dealing with. I am going to contact the Chicago Tribune and the Huffington and send them this information since they ran the story. Maybe they can look into it. Remember people, this is an outsider from NY who has come to our neighborhood to shut down our beloved theater. We welcome anyone to our wonderful city, but when you try to muscle your way in and take whats ours we will not sit quietly and let that happend. Though we do not resort to violience, we are not push overs either. It seems there is no regard from the pastor for the people of Portage Park, the requests from the Alderman's office or the countless people who have expressed thier oppostion to this purchase goes unanswered. Let the church open up at another locaiton. There are plenty of options on the table.

    Here is another Topix forum article on the Brooklyn church.


  • Such a long thread: TLDR all... so forgive if this has been suggested already, but what about trying to get Second City, or Steppenwolf interested in the space for a NW side theater group/school? Since there really is nothing like that up here (no offense to the theater on Milwaukee/Lawrence) Maybe giving the theater landmark status, and opening a NW side-oriented museum? What's the likelihood of involving Chicago History Museum? After all, this area is one of the older sections of the city! And there is no shortage of history here: watch part one of "City of the Century"...
    I think pursuing something like that would work on many levels, mostly revitalizing the area...

  • Six Corners Association Bringing People Back to Cicero-Irving-Milwaukee

    Save The Portage Theater event (March 26)
    OK, you've all commented. Now it's time to take action! (Thank you to those who have acted already.)
    Come to the theater at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 26, to find out exactly what you as an individual can do. Help us save this neighborhood icon! Presented to you by the Six Corners Association, Old Irving Park Association and the Portage Park Neighborhood Association. We will make sure you leave with everything you need to save the Portage Theater. Thank you!!!

  • AOB64 Resident

    It is imperative that everyone write and send letters to the ZBA board members, Andrew Mooney from Dept of Planning and Development and the Aldermans office ASAP!

    Commissioner Andrew Mooney
    Department of Planning and Development
    121 North LaSalle Street
    10th Floor
    Chicago, IL 60602

    Jonathan Swain Chairman, Zoning Board of Appeals
    Lori Healey
    Geraldine "Gigi" McCabe-Miele
    Lynette Santiago
    Sam Toia
    121 N. LaSalle Street Room 905
    Chicago, IL 60602

    Alderman John Arena
    45th Ward Office
    4754 N. Milwaukee Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60630

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    @six corners I wil be there!!!

  • Ben 6 Corners

    Have a scan of the letter I received from Chicago Tabernacle attorneys. It is a notice that they applied for a zoning change that goes out to all residents within 250 feet. Was going to upload the scan but cant figure out how?

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Somebody else uploaded last night on a different thread.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @AOB64, I'm not doing anything in terms of reaching out to various people/departments until I hear back from Arena, and he says what's the best thing to do.

    He started this thread and I'm sure will be back to direct us all.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    can you piont us to that thread missy?

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt
  • @kenji FYI: At the PPNA meeting on Monday, John Arena asked everyone to email / write ZBA and copy him on our letters. We also have the option of writing Arena directly, and he'll use them in his next interaction with zoning / CT. In fact in the original post that started this thread he asked everyone to send their thoughts about the Portage to More info to come, but it does not hurt to write letters now!

    Thanks @SCA for posting the event! March 26th is on our calendar. :-)

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Thanks Babette. I'm sure Arena will be back here to direct everyone here specifically what to do now.

    YES! anyone reading this who supports the theater, should be writing a letter to speak of their support and send it to:

  • Six Corners Association Bringing People Back to Cicero-Irving-Milwaukee

    @kenji: Ald. Arena will be at the March 26 event, fwiw.

  • Jan

    Here is what is on Facebook from Adrienne O' Brien about Chicago Tabernacle Church:

    Legitimacy Information
    ■ This organization is not registered with the IRS.
    ■ This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

    This organization's exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.
    This can be checked on

  • AOB64 Resident

    Someone may want to look into whether or not that is the same Chicago Tabernacle Church.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    @ Jan Thanks for that info Jan. Sounds like some of those posts on the Topix forum might be accurate afterall?

    Here is another Topix Forum Post about the Brooklyn Tabernacle, The church that pastor of the Chicago Tabernacle. came from. The post says that the senior pastor and pastor al toledo, the son-in-law, had their homes remodled by using church money. I am not a tax lawyer, but If the church is tax exempt, I don't think they should be using the money to remodel thier homes?

    Fact. PJC lives in a home that is worth over 5 million dollars.
    Fact, The church pays for all of his personal expenses. Staff members fix every leak, every plumbing problem, paint and remodel his home on a regular basis.
    His house keeper and gardeners salary are also paid for by the church. Baby sitting for his grand children, remodeling of Toledo and Pettery’s homes are also paid by the church. The entire remodel of his mother’s home was paid for by the church. Remodeling of a vacation home in Florida was also done by employees of the church. By the way, this is all done during church hours. When these employees are gone for months at a time, the church building is neglected, projects come to a halt and the work load becomes heavy for others. Were they paid for these services? NO. They are salaried employees who make very little. Could they object to doing the work? The ones who did are included in the list of those who were fired. Oh by the way, the other pastors do not enjoy this benefit. No one shovels the snow for them in the winter mornings, only Al and Jim enjoyed that benefit. No one parks their cars for them. All of this is demanded of the staff. Many have never received raises; one person after working at BT for 15years had only a $10 contribution made by the church into their 401b retirement.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    Not so sure how they would treat the residence of the community when it says that they do not even treat their own congregants and church guests with respect.

    Pastor Byrd served faithfully at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. He began laboring there when the church was called The Brooklyn gospel tabernacle. After his death, Sister Byrd received a call from the church informing her that the church would not support her. It was a sister church in New Jersey that came to her aide. Now you understand why she attends that church. When this news reached the ears of some concerned members at BT people began talking and questioning or as some would say “Gossiping”. Because of their “gossip”, Sister Byrd gets some support from BT. The amount is small but at least it’s something. The bible instructs the church to care for widows especially those who served in the church. This act by BT. goes against scripture.

    And here is how the Chicago Tabernacle pator treates blind people. This is astonishing!!!!

    Here is an excerpt from this post on the National Federation of the Blind. These people are something else..

    "However, an associate pastor, Al Toledo, came over and insisted that moving was church policy. He added that, if an ambulance had to come and take someone out quickly, it would be a problem for me to remain where I was seated. Again I assured him that I could move as fast as anyone else if such a situation required it. He told me that I was not being cooperative and asked, if I claimed to be a Christian, why wasn’t I willing to submit to the church's policy. I don't recall my exact response, but, as things turned out, I stayed where I was. However, they warned me that the next time I'd have to sit in the disabled section".

  • MilwaukeeMania Negative Nancy

    As I see it, there are two separate issues being discussed:

    1. economic, cultural & historical value of the viable Portage Theater, the half block long building it's in, and its value to many different groups

    2. history & background info about the potential buyer, Chicago Tabernacle Chicago, & home church in NYC

    Think it's important to keep the two separated. Can the posters start a new thread about the Chicago Tabernacle? Fascinating stuff.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    not really looking to start a post about a church for the purpose of starting a post, but just concenred about my neighborhood and who sets up shop so one does have to do with the other. But I think enoug has been said so I will stop. Actually I am getting bored with it already.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    Seems to be a done deal? Can anyone comment on this? Does this mean its going to happen?

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    That's been up since earlier this week, Cal. It's a notice of the application, not its approval.
    They're required by law to post that up before any public hearing - in this case the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on April 20th.

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    Oh great to hear. I was a bit saddened at first. glad to hear that

  • theanalogdivide portage park family dude

    As promised, here's the link for the piece WBEZ did on the Portage:

    It's the first thing discussed in Hour 2 of the archive, after about a minute of banter.

  • kenji Find us here -->


    Directions from the Alderman as to how the community can proceed are found in the new thread he created here on Everyblock

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    After prayer, discernment and a series of conversations, the Congregation, at a special meeting on December 4, 2011, voted to disband as a worshiping community, completing its ministry on June 10, 2012.

    Mayfair Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded on February 4, 1931, 81 years ago Countless men, women, and children have shared God’s gifts of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion at Mayfair.

    4335 W. Lawrence Ave. ( )
    Chicago, IL 60630
    773 725-7879

    George C. Loellick

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    I don't think it is big enough. We are dealing with a mega church. they get thier importance buy how big thier church is. Kind of like my gun is bigger than your gun kind of mentality. So a small church would not fit the big ego.

  • Has anyone contacted Nick D on WGN? Maybe he can mention it on his show. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter, I think those are the only way's to get with him.

  • Big Oaks Big Oaks resident since 1979

    I know Nick D is a huge fan of the Patio on Irving & Austin. This should be right up his alley. You can email him thru WGNRADIO.COM. Everybody at the station has their own web page.

  • I emailed Nick D. Told him what I knew and asked him to "investigate and help." :)

  • Could the Portage be declared a National Historic Site because it was one of the first theaters in Chicago to be built specifically for showing films?

  • Cal Portage Park resident

    Just an FYI the information above about the tax status of Chicago Tabernalce is not accurate, that was a different church so there does not seem to be any financial issues as far as taxes go. They seem to be ligit.

    I am not opposed to any church finding a house of worship but why would they want to continue when they see how much opposition this is bringing? Woudn't the "Christian" think to do would be to pull out their offer and look elswhere? Would Jesus kick people out and bring down the plans for economic growth to a neighborhood that so despretatley needs reviving? One wonders if the church is seeking its own needs rather than the needs of the community. I thought churches were supposed to be lights and servants to the community, not pains in the assses to the community?

  • grethomory Resident of Jefferson Park

    @Anne, it wish it could. I was discussing with co-workers here about this and you have no idea how many of them grew up in the area. They would like someone of keeping this theater.

  • The problem with a church buying all this property is that they will be exempt from the property taxes and when the value increases they will more than likely turn around and sell it for an handsome profit.


    "Churches, however, tend to benefit the most from the various tax exemptions available, in particular because they qualify for many of them automatically, whereas non-religious groups have to go through a more complicated application and approval process. Non-religious groups also have to be more accountable for where their money goes, while churches, in order to avoid possibly excessive entanglements between church and state, do not have to submit financial disclosure statements.

    Tax benefits for religious organizations fall into three general categories: tax-free donations, tax-free land and tax-free commercial enterprises. The first two are much easier to defend and arguments against permitting them are much weaker. The latter, however, often creates problems."

    You can find the entire article here:

  • I'm not an atheist but something seems unholy about this deal. )

  • I'd like to know if any parishoners are residents of Portage Park. While I don't think it imparative that all church members live in the immediate area, but I feel that any church should reflect the community in which it resides. A church should be a part of the community and work with the community. It should not be trying alienate local residents and businesses, not to mention sabbotaging the efforts of local neighborhood groups that have been striving to revitalize Six Corners. Why not build or buy in community that wants or needs you.

  • Inactive user

    They came here from Brooklyn by way of Nebraska and have been in Albany Park for several years 4200 block of Troy.

  • ron Harwood Heights

    @ Jake Do you know them?

  • Inactive user

    No from their website and other sources on the net.

  • Six Corners Association Bringing People Back to Cicero-Irving-Milwaukee

    Reminder: Come to the Save The Portage community meeting 7 p.m., Monday, March 26, to find out exactly what you as an individual can do. Help us save this neighborhood icon! Presented to you by the Six Corners Association, Old Irving Park Association and the Portage Park Neighborhood Association. We will make sure you leave with everything you need to save the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. For background,

    Thank you one and all!!!

  • Inactive user

    website isn't up

  • Six Corners Association Bringing People Back to Cicero-Irving-Milwaukee

    It was when the post went up. They must have just started an update. Please check back in the morning. Thank you.

  • Dirk Portage Park

    Just tried it. Worked fine.

  • Inactive user

    up now yes

  • kenji Find us here -->

    CBS local news created a story last night and aired it.

    Here's the video on their website:

  • Barry Kaufman Famous singer & King of the Monsters

    It’s fascinating to see the lack of understanding of the Portage’s significance from superficial news reporters like Mike Parker. As in the Tribune article of March 12, 2012, there is a disdainful tone in discussing the theatre’s programming, without really knowing what that programming is. Parker cites “The Hunger Games” as the type of sophisticated programming you won’t see at the Portage. It’s a completely unecessary “angle” which he chooses to base the story on, meant to put down the type of cinema featured at the theatre, as well as those who would choose to attend it.
    Parker’s angle is meant to prejudice opinion against the Portage Theatre before the story even begins.
    Perhaps parker doesn’t know the Portage has screened a restored 35mm print of King Kong (1933), just a monster movie I know. As well as Written on the Wind (1956), just a silly Douglas Sirk Soap Opera. Upcoming on April 4th they are screening Max Ophal’s riventing “lost” classic Liebelei (1933), just a historic film by a Jewish director in Nazi Germany. Perhaps Parker was alluding to the Universal horror films of the 1930′s being shown on March 31st. I could go on about all the programming there for degenerates and simpletons, would that I had the cinematic taste and frame if reference of one Mike Parker.

  • Thomas Gianni Resident of the 2500 W. block of Pensacola

    I'm assuming the event is at the theater itself? I will be there.

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    @Tom: Monday's meeting is at the Portage Theater itself, 4050 N. Milwaukee, starting at 7 PM. Six Corners Assn. posted it above, but here it is again:

    Come to the Save The Portage community meeting 7 p.m., Monday, March 26, to find out exactly what you as an individual can do. Sponsored by SCA, OIPA & PPNA.

    For background,

    I'll begin another thread so it's not lost.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    What is OPA? Sounds like greek cheese, and Roditys to me, and I'm not good with acronyms.

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    Yeh, and saganaki to you too, oldtimer aka Kenji.

    SCA = Six Corners Association, funded by self taxing business district #28, to fund business promotion at Milw/Irving/Cicero

    PPNA = Portage Park Neighborhood Association, non profit community group encompassing the community area of Portage Park

    OIPA (bring out the flaming cheese) = Old Irving Park Association, non profit community group in the community area of Irving Park, boundaries determined by the 2 farms of its original upstate NY settlers, circa approx. 1860.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    I'm also not too familiar with things that happen East of the Soo Line, around here. Even East of Cicero Ave. is uncharted waters.

    Is Kostner Ave. in Old Irving Park, East or West of the Soo Line tracks?

  • Inactive user

    Anna, did you recently start running Old Irving together as one word? If so, was it to clarify which word Old modified lol?

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    Kostner btwn Addison & Montrose, is in OIP. Our western boundary is just east of Marshall's & Payless, the Milwaukee Rd. RR, running parallel to Kilbourn/Kolmar.

    For more than you ever wanted to know:

    Apologies in advance to Kenji, for violating his one sentence paragraph rule.

    Here's our one square mile neighborhood's history, courtesy of the Irving Park Historical Society. We owe our existence to carpetbagging developers from upstate New York state. FYI, the Gray farmhouse, newly repainted, is still at the corner of Grace & Kostner. Several of the original settlers' homes remain, including the Race house next to the Golden Nugget on Tripp Ave.

    "The chain of events leading to the development of Irving Park began in 1843 when Major Noble purchased a 160-acre tract of land from Christopher L. Ward, upon which Noble established a farm. The boundaries of that farm today would be Montrose to the north, Irving Park to the south, Pulaski to the east and Kostner to the west. Major Noble's house on the east side of Elston just south of Montrose doubled as the Blackthorn Tavern, serving travelers coming to and from the City of Chicago along the North West Plank Road (Elston). After many years of successful farming, Noble sold the farm and retired to McHenry County. Four men from New York - Charles T. Race, John S. Brown, Adelbert E. Brown and John Wheeler - purchased the farm in 1869 for $20,000.

    Shortly thereafter, they purchased an additional 80-acre tract immediately south of the Noble farm from John Gray for $25,000. This parcel, bounded by Irving Park Road on the north, Grace on the south, Pulaski to the east and Kostner to the west, was part of his original 320 acre farm. The intention of the men was to continue farming, but after seeing the success of suburban communities which had recently opened for settlement, they decided to subdivide their land and create an exclusive suburb seven miles from the city."

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    @Jake--I'm under 100 years old, so I'm happy. This Anna is old, but probably NOT as old as you! And stlll enjoying my "zimne piwo" on my back porch.

  • Inactive user

    I bet you're right.

  • Inactive user

    Any guesses as to what the alderman is looking down at and smiling?

  • kenji Find us here -->

    His new Chuck Talyors while playing some 3-on-3 at the new rims and nets at Wilson Park?

  • Inactive user

    The hopscotch board he just drew on the sidewalk with chalk.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Any report/summary on the meeting yesterday, 3/26, on the status of the Portage Theater? I couldn't make it.

  • Barry Kaufman Famous singer & King of the Monsters

    A tremendous turnout, well over 1,000 assembled in great spirits, petitions were signed. Presentors included Alderman Arena, Dennis Wolkowicz (theatre operator who also gave an organ concert for openers!), the Save the Portage Facebook founder (forgot the name sorry) and more.
    Alderman Arena was great and very civil in his welcoming of the Chicago Tabernacle to the community, just not to the Portage.
    There were also some conceptual drawings on display from the
    "other party" who plans to buy the Portage if the Tabernacle's plans fall through which were very encouraging. Go to the Save the Portage Facebook page for instructions regarding further action, or there are links on my site:

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Nice segue Barry to drive traffic to your blog!

    well played.

  • Also visit for new updates!

    Thursday night is the next event to attend, at the Copernicus (5216 W Lawrence Ave). It is the Chicago Cultural Plan Town Hall Meeting, and we need voices to oppose the CT proposal. Meeting starts at 6:00 pm.

  • Barry Kaufman Famous singer & King of the Monsters

    Babbette could you clarify what this Town Hall Meeting is? Is it specific to the Portage, or is it a regularly scheduled meeting at which this topic is being discussed?

  • kenji Find us here -->
  • Certainly! This is a meeting that John Arena scheduled with the intent of discussing goals and ideas for arts facilities / events in our area. He started a thread about it here:

    You can read all the details and comments in that thread. Come one, come all...

  • That's not what I heard, @kenji. ;-)

  • The community needs to attend this meeting!!

    But BEWARE - from conversations – it’s not exactly a "town hall" type meeting - it’s more like the city telling you "Here is what we are doing downtown and you'll like it". In other words - they are ignoring possible cultural hotspots and opportunities such as the northwest side that has 8-10 amazing, historic venues that could be revitalized and marketed to become the economic engines and attractors to turn the commercial districts around. THINK The Portage Theater as well as the Patio, LaSalle Bank, the Copernicous, the Jefferson, Gift Theatre Company, Chicago Kids Company, Silent Film Festival etc. etc.

    Wear your SAVE THE PORTAGE shirts, brings signs and be sure to make an effort to talk to the presenters before or after if you can and mention the priceless resources we already have in our community and that the City should recognize and invest in these venues with us! ALSO, it seems you might have to register @

  • Hendu Stuck in a condo in Belmont Gardens

    Sorry if this has been asked/answered already, but I didn't see anything. What are the chances that the ZBA would ever vote against the wishes of the Alderman? It did happen with the proposed Childrens' Museum, but that was a different situation with Mayor Daley personally pushing for the move. I know it's not as open-and-shot as an actual zoning change, but it still must be a major stacked deck right? Just curious.

  • OldIrving Anna on a quest for craft brewed "zimne piwo"

    The City Council Zoning Committee, composed of aldermen, is not the ZBA--Zoning Board of Appeals. ZBA is a panel of five people appointed by the Mayor, in this case all former Mayor Daley appointees. Apples & oranges. No aldermanic prerogative.

  • Hendu Stuck in a condo in Belmont Gardens

    Thanks, Anna. Still, even though there's technically no aldermanic prerogative, I was wondering if historically it's common or pretty rare for the ZBA to vote against the wishes of the alderman.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @hendu, we can see their agenda going back to 2009, but maybe with a little searching you can find the minutes of all of those agendas . Here's the URL:

  • The ZBA is made up of volunteers. They are under the umbrella of the Department of Housing and Economic Development, Bureau of Planning and Zoning. As they are volunteers - they are not employees of the city therefore they have no city of Chicago email, office or direct phone lines. This makes them "independent" on paper. But, the personal agenda of each, obviously, will still be an influence.

    They generally do not “hear” or “research” a case until the day of the hearing. They are not mulling around the office cooler, sort of speak, reading letters and answering email. But, they are certainly reading the local news. The Alderman does not have “access” to them like the traditional zoning process. That is why, showing up at a ZBA hearing (with warning or not) is critical for a community voice.

    The unfortunate part for this subject is that the contract and purchase can still go through with or without ZBA action. The ZBA process will only inform the buyer if this particular group of ZBA volunteers grants them their special use this time around – or – the buyer could choose to wait a few years and reapply at their convenience and time that may be more favorable to their agenda.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired,0,308916.story

    Chicago Tabernacle Church released a statement Thursday afternoon, announcing it had pulled its application with the city Zoning Board of Appeals for a special use to operate as a house of worship at the site, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave.

  • @alderman arena thanks for being steadfast on your position, as it enabled a lot of attention and support. it shows that as a community working together, we are capable of doing great things. time for some new community challenges, but in this case simply put:
    we won, and quite frankly with the great people we have, they didn't have a prayer.

54 neighbors are subscribed to this conversation.

Posted to Ward 45

This was posted to Ward 45

What's the news in your neighborhood? Search for your ZIP code:

e.g. 60615