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Despite Landmark Status, Tensions Remain Between Portage Theater Management, Carranza

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 8, 2013 10:40PM

Photo credit: the_mel

The Portage Theater may have won a battle Thursday when the Commission on Chicago Landmarks granted permanent landmark status to the Six Corners movie palace, but that doesn’t mean the venue’s future is secure. Even with final landmark status pending, it appears the main threat to the future of the Portage remains its owner, Erineo “Eddie” Carranza.

WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis writes that Portage Theater managers Dennis Wolkowicz and Dave Dziedzic were served last week with a 60-day eviction notice and that the venue is not receiving any bookings past mid-April. DeRogatis has had a hard time getting some answers as to what’s happening, but did note court records showed the original eviction notice filed by Carranza was tossed by Cook County Circuit Court, meaning this new eviction notice is part of a new lawsuit by Carranza.

Wolkowicz wouldn’t speak on the record to either DeRogatis or Chicagoist, but did tell us that programming for the Portage would continue as it has ever since Carranza bought the venue last September. Ald. John Arena (45th) told Chicagoist he was as surprised about the eviction notice as Wolkowicz, especially in light of what he said was Carranza’s support of the Landmarks Commission’s decision. “We don’t know don’t know what’s happening (with Carranza),” Arena said. “But we would love to hear back from him on that.”

Carranza began his legal attack on Wolkowicz and Dziedzic with a five-day eviction notice shortly after his purchase of the Portage became official, citing back rent owed by the Portage management team to the previous owner. DeRogatis reports that lawsuit was ““dismissed by stipulation/satisfaction” Feb. 8. It’s unknown whether that means the back rent was paid or if Carranza filed a shoddy lawsuit.

Chicagoist emailed Carranza for comment but, to be frank, we doubt we’ll get a reply. DeRogatis noted Carranza is now on his third attorney in seven months, a fact we discovered after calling his former attorney Thomas Raines. Raines was representing Carranza in his ongoing Public Nuisance/Deleterious Impact hearings before the city Liquor Commission. It’s unknown if the new attorney is also representing Carranza in his ongoing attempts to evict Portage management.