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Congress' Carranza Still Mum On Portage Plans

By Chris Bentley in News on Sep 13, 2012 5:40PM

Photo Credit: Don Ritt

The Portage Theater escaped acquisition by a northwest side church earlier this year, only to become part of Erineo “Eddie” Carranza’s portfolio. For those not fond of Carranza’s housekeeping at his embattled concert venue, it could appear the Portage has left the frying pan for the fire. The Congress Theater owner has been hard to pin down regarding deleterious impact / public nuisance hearings his concert venue has had to answer for, but WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis previously coaxed a few words from him.

DeRo again tried to squeeze blood from the stone, eliciting a few terse emails in response to questions about programming at the Portage. The exchange produced no new details as to exactly what Carranza is planning for the Portage, or how he’ll pay for it on top of renovations required at Congress.

The Congress Theater has come under fire for security issues, which may disturb some Portage enthusiasts who cherish the classic Six Corners theater’s historic charm. He indicated he may rip out the theater’s seats for live music performances, but has said the Portage would still screen films.

As an anchor of the Six Corners neighborhood, the Portage could do worse than a live music venue. Though the art-house cinema has sustained some vibrancy and much-needed economic activity in the area, its current tenants owe some back rent. Given the vagaries of Carranza’s plan so far, Portage enthusiasts are anxious about losing the theater’s distinctive character. The Portage’s affiliation with the Silent Film Society of Chicago is one of its defining features.