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The Portage Theater Has A New Operator, But That's All Carranza Will Say

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 12, 2013 2:55PM

DNAInfo Chicago has the latest on the Portage Theater saga and it appears that owner Eddie Carranza has a new operator in place for the Six Corners movie house.

That’s about all Carranza would tell reporter Heather Cherone regarding the new operator. He did add that he’s working with the current management team of Dennis Wolkowicz and Dave Dziedzic on a smooth transition, including retaining Wolkowicz to program movies at the theater.

The future of the Portage has been a subject of debate ever since the Commission on Chicago Landmarks granted final landmark status to the theater last week. WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis reported Carranza served Wolkowicz with a 60-day eviction notice a week before the Landmarks Commission’s vote and that the Portage was not booking past mid-April. Rebecca Hall of the Northwest Chicago Film Society told Cherone her group had their programming set through the end of the year and had heard nothing from Wolkowicz or Carranza that would change their plans.

Supporters of the theater and Wolkowicz, who helped restore the theater into one of the city’s premiere movie houses, have long viewed Carranza with skepticism given his history of building code violations and public nuisance/deleterious impact complaints at the Congress Theater. DeRogatis has been chasing down leads regarding negotiations between the city and Live Nation on future programming at the Congress and Portage — Carranza told DeRogatis he was working to clear up all the violations at the Congress so that he could remain an independent operator

What’s most curious about all this is Carranza’s support of the Landmarks Commission’s vote, though it’s probably not because it’s truly a landmark. Here’s what he told Cherone in an email. (Emphasis ours.)

"It's a good thing for the building and there's many tax benefits for being a landmark," Carranza said. "Congress has the same landmark designation and it's a good thing. I love landmark designation."

Chicagoist sent emails to Carranza and Hall requesting comment. Again, we doubt Carranza will reply — he didn’t reply to repeated follow-up emails from Cherone — and we’ll update this post if we hear back from Hall.