The Portage Theater Threatened AGAIN, This Time by the Building’s New Owner “Eddie” Carranza

UPDATE: WBEZ reported on this earlier with Carranza’s lawyer, Thomas   Raines making this statement about a meeting he had with John Arena:

“Something happened in that meeting [Wednesday] that changed all this, and it was something the Alderman said a few times and something he did,” Raines said Sunday morning. I know that’s not much for you and I know it’s kind of cryptic and it doesn’t do much to change your story or make us look any better. But right this minute, I can’t get into it, what he did. But he did something that made us change our position.”

So in other words: we can’t tell you, you won’t understand, it’ll make us look bad anyway, but Arena did and said something terrible.

What is this, a meeting of the Freemasons? If Raines thinks the terms brought forward to him were so bad, he should make them public and not treat us like children.

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When the Portage Theater building was bought a few weeks ago by the current owner of the problem-plagued Congress Theater, some in the community were already sounding the warning while others were willing to give it a chance to develop positively.

Looks like the distrusting folks might have had a point.

Alderman John Arena just put out a very stinging statement about owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza’s attempts to evict the current operators of The Portage Theater, despite assurances this would not be done–flat out calling him a liar. Here is Arena’s statement in its entirety:

***IMPORTANT*** In an effort to keep you posted on the continuing efforts to Save the Portage theater please read the following immediately.

Just two weeks ago, I told you that I was cautiously optimistic that we could work with Erineo “Eddie” Carranza, the new owner of the Portage Theater building, to improve this community treasure and the Six Corners retail district. I now know that is not the case.

My office learned early Saturday that Mr. Carranza is threatening to evict the current operators of the Portage Theater for lack of payment of a disputed amount of back rent. This is despite assurances Mr. Carranza gave the Old Irving Park Association, the Six Corners Association, the current operators, and me that he would not make any changes to the operations at the Portage in the short term. Additionally, Mr. Carranza’s attorney on Wednesday assured the operators and me that he would not evict the operators.

In short, Mr. Carranza lied to me, and he lied to the community.

It is not clear what Mr. Carranza thinks will happen should he follow through on his threat. The current operators are the holders of the liquor and public place of amusement licenses, and those licenses stay with the operators regardless of what Mr. Carranza does.

Additionally, in light of his well-documented problems at the Congress Theater, my office has repeatedly told Mr. Carranza that I would not support his holding of any liquor or public place of amusement licenses at the Portage Theater until he could prove, through a track record of problem-free management, that he had the ability to act as a responsible venue owner and liquor license holder. His documented history of deferred maintenance, rowdy crowds, and underage drinking at the Congress is not welcome at Six Corners.

Moving forward, I will encourage the current operators to explore their legal options. I expect they will operate in the theater until all those legal options are exhausted.

In the longer term, Mr. Carranza has already shown during his short ownership of the Portage that he is not a man of his word. I was willing to give Mr. Carranza a second chance to prove he had learned from his mistakes at the Congress. It seems now that Mr. Carranza has learned nothing. I’m disappointed but not surprised.

We still have options as a community, and my office will continue to explore all available avenues to ensure that the Portage Theater meets its potential as an economic engine at Six Corners. This may take some time, and I ask for your patience and continued support as we work through this.

Other development continues at Six Corners. We still have many exciting institutions and businesses coming to the area. I will do everything possible to make sure that continues. The Portage Theater is one of the cultural, economic, and historic icons of our community. I will continue to be its ceaseless advocate.

Thank you for reading.
Alderman John Arena

You will want to head here to read the entire statement, but it’s not good. It looks like The Portage Theater and the Six Corners community is up for another fight to save the Portage Theater.

I would, seriously, contact the Portage Park Neighborhood Association and tell them you support their continued efforts to save the Portage Theater as an independent venue of entertainment–free from the ownership of those who can’t be trusted with this important landmark.

Oh, and The Congress Theater’s number is 773-276-1235. Perhaps you can POLITELY contact them and let them know you don’t appreciate Mr. Carranza’s deception. Tell him you want the theater owners to remain in the building as previously agreed and not to be evicted.

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