Added May 16 2012
Recently, I filed an ordinance authorizing the City to exercise its powers of eminent domain to buy the building. This is not a step that I take lightly. I have consulted with the Mayor’s administration, and we remain hopeful that we can preserve this critical economic engine without implementing this solution.
It is not my intent that the City enter into the theater business, nor is it my desire that the theater be turned over to a non-profit. Both options would remove this substantial property from the tax rolls, severely impacting the Portage Park Tax Increment Financing District and the Six Corners Special Service Area. Instead, if necessary, the City would buy the building and sell it to a private business ready to preserve and enhance the current use of the theater. State law allows for this type of purchase and resale within TIF districts.
I wouldn’t contemplate taking this extraordinary step if the historic Portage Theater weren’t critical to the redevelopment of Six Corners. Several restaurants and potential cultural attractions are waiting for the resolution of this issue before they come to our community. The church’s proposed use for the Portage would make it impossible for anyone to get a liquor license within 100 feet of the building. It would make it impossible for anyone to get a public place of amusement license within 250 feet without the church’s permission. Because the Portage Theater building is so large, these zones would extend to the south side of Irving Park Road, in addition to Milwaukee Avenue near the theater.
The proposed use would gouge a huge hole in Six Corners where there would be no new restaurants, and where any proposed theater or entertainment venue would require the church’s permission. It would stifle development at a time when Six Corners is ready to take off.
I continue to remain ready to help Chicago Tabernacle with alternative sites.