Uptown Theater Rehab Progress

What I thought would be a mild Edgewater residents’ meeting got a little brittle last Wednesday.

Edgewater Development Council and Edgewater residents met to vote on the historic rehab of the Uptown Theater and its use as an entertainment facility.

Uptown Theater

Uptown Theater

A representative of the developer was in attendance, and Jim Wiggins (spelling?) expressed outrage that Alderman Mary Ann Smith wouldn’t meet with him.  He wouldn’t respond, however, to her chief of staff’s response that the developer has reneged on a promise to deposit $ 5MM in escrow for the building’s facade restoration.  According to Doug Frasier, this deposit was part of the agreement to purchase the theater.  Ald Smith can’t trust a developer to appropriately use government money when the first promise made to the people, the $5MM deposit, has been broken already. How can we trust our tax money to a developer who won’t put up a measly $ 5MM in escrow on top of the $5MM acquisition cost (? -quoted in the meeting) ?

Despite not addressing this issue, Mr.Wiggens announced that Booth-Hansen is the architect of record, that the rehab will require $ 30-$50 MM, and that they have no drawings to present at this time.  He said that the only way for this project to be profitable to the developer is to remove the historic seating and allow for flexible/movable seats, providing for 5,000 audience members.

The residents and board of EDC expressed concern about plans for parking.  This rehab will create an outstanding entertainment district, as the Aragon, Riviera, and Green Mill already draw a significant crowd.  Doug Frasier estimated the need for 1500-2000 (and as many as 3000) additional parking spaces, and he conceded that the neighborhood would have some “growing pains” as the theater is developed, and then parking options are considered.

In the end, I was one of the residents who voted in favor of the plan.  There truly wasn’t much to debate — I would love the theater to be restored to its original grandeur and used as a first rate entertainment facility.  For ten years, this goal has been discussed.  I only hope it’s not ten more years before it becomes a reality.

The Uptown Theater is a landmark in Chicago.  An example of Spanish Baroque Architecture, it was popular in the 20’s, and with 4500 seats, it was second in the US behind Radio City Music Hall.  The architects also designed the Chicago Theatre, today a beautifully restored historic landmark on State Street.

Related Links

Booth-Hansen Projects

Uptown Theater District

Edgewater Bricolage III Update

This week, action heats up with the next Bricolage planned for the Edgewater neighborhood.  On Saturday evening, Tracey Van Duinen  and Todd Osborne will be projecting the image onto the Foster Ave underpass, and neighbors will have the chance to help trace the design on the wall.

Then, during the summer, the mosaic pieces will be applied and we will be able to see the project come alive!


For the first time, residents are invited to join in, tracing part of the design and participating in the initial steps of the art project.  The action begins at 7:30 for those who are interested in participating.

The theme this year is a tribute to Native Americans from the Edgewater and Uptown neighborhoods

I am so excited about this project — I love the art, I love the community involvement, I think Tracey and Todd are doing top notch work (and they’re great guys!), and I smile every time I walk or drive through the beautiful mosaic walls.  I think this project is one of the most under-appreciated in Edgewater and Chicago, but I’m grateful Ernie Constantino and Mary Ann Smith are fans of public art–we will appreciate their efforts for years to come as we enjoy this commemorative Chicago Public Art!


Bricolage on WTTW

Chicago Public Art Group

48th Ward Website

For more information on the Edgewater neighborhood, select this link.

To see homes for sale in these neighborhoods…



Anne Rossley, Rubloff, specializes in historic and vintage home sales on Chicago’s north side, including the Edgewater and Uptown neighborhoods.

4542 N Hermitage – East Ravenswood Home for Sale

This vintage rehab opportunity in East Ravenswood could be as gem for someone interested in old houses.

Built in 1876, it’s a Victorian single family that sits on a 35 ‘  x 165 ‘ oversized lot in the magnificent East Ravenswood Historic District.

Property taxes for ’07 were $9,228.56, and based on the assessor’s equalized value of $184,793, a nominal rehab project could yield a property tax freeze and savings for 12 years.


For information on how you can live in this gorgeous neighborhood, or how you can use historic landmark property improvements to save on property taxes, call me today!

Happy Birthday Buddha

I just love driving on Ashland Avenue during the first week of May — Happy  Birthday Buddha!  Truc Lam Temple, which replaced the old Masonic Lodge, is bright and cheerful this week.

I know nothing about this festival, but I did pick up a book by the Dalia Lama this week.

What can I say?  I was inspired!


Some people commenting on the Uptown Update expressed dismay over how bright and eye-catching the decorations are…. personally, I love it!

Buddhist Temple takes over Masonic Lodge

North Side Home Sales in April Top 2008

I normally post market activity from the Gold Coast north through Edgewater, (and I will this week) but this article ONLY includes single family home sales from Uptown, Edgewater, North Center, and Lincoln Square neighborhoods.

Single Family homes closed (in these neighborhoods)  during April 2009 topped Apr ’08 sales figures.  This is the first time since August  ’08 that home sales surpassed monthly sales for the previous year.

At the same time, median sales prices were down 17% vs April ’08 to $ 603,750.  This could be due to

  • More lower priced homes selling, such as first time buyers getting into the market;   and/or
  • Homes selling below previous market prices due to seller need to move the property at any price.

In any event, there are currently 293 homes for sale in this northern geographic area, and the current median listing price is $ 799,900.   The  currently available homes in these neighborhoods represent an 11.5 month inventory of product — high and certainly not indicative of a healthy market —  but closer to normal than we’ve seen in previous months.



For more information on homes for sale in these neighborhoods:

Please contact Anne Rossley, Rubloff

To see these communities on the Chicago Area Community Map, select this link.

Thai Pastry in Uptown — a hidden jewel

Thai Pastry has been open for over 7 years, and Add (the name everyone calls her, pronounced “at”) is the owner-operator. What a great place!


It’s a small storefront at 4925 N.  Broadway in Uptown,  near the Argyle Street group of fantastic restaurants.    The decor doesn’t “wow” you, but the food is superb.  It’s open for lunch and dinner, and you can carry out or have the food delivered to the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods.  It’s a BYOB that’s open 7 days a week.


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