Eddie Carranza Fails To Pay Portage Theater Gas Bill, Insults Neighborhood
By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 16, 2013 8:25PM
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Eddie Carranza, the beleaguered owner of the Congress and Portage Theaters, continues to make friends and influence people in his own peculiar way. DNAInfo Chicago reports tenants living in the apartments above and adjacent to the Portage Theater had to go without gas or hot water for three days because Carranza failed to pay the building’s gas bill.
Carranza, in typical fashion, blamed everyone but himself. He said the building’s previous owners left him with a past-due bill totaling nearly $25,000 and that he’s had some cash flow problems since he padlocked the doors to the landmark Six Corners movie house in May after Ald. John Arena (45th) refused to give Carranza a liquor license and public place of amusement licenses based on his track record at the Congress. Because the Portage’s overdue gas bill was on a payment plan, one missed payment results in service being terminated. An orange shut-off notice was pasted to the Portage’s front doors Sept. 11.
That would be fine if the shut-off centered on only the theater. The overdue bill, however, affected a combined 28 apartments at 4042-60 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 4905-15 W. Cuyler Ave. One tenant, Timothy Downs, said he and his 3-year-old son Malachi had been taking cold showers for three days and “can’t cook anything” because of the shutoff.
Carranza is evidently feeling the pressure now that the city is paying extra special attention to his business dealings. He told DNAInfo Chicago’s Heather Cherone the overdue bill was “no big fucking deal”—tell that to the tenants, Eddie—and that $20,000 had been paid by 1 p.m. Monday. Carranza followed with what, by any definition, is called “bulletin board fodder.”
"I don't know why it is such a big deal," Carranza said. "The bigger deal is how I'm improving that shitty neighborhood."
That will definitely endear Carranza to the neighbors.
Although the Portage had its share of problems before Carranza bought the building, at least its managers had a solid relationship with community and business groups and the 45th Ward office. They were also able to keep the doors open, offer an eclectic range of programming ranging from classic film screenings to live concerts and events and rent the space out for weddings, parties and community groups. Carranza has burned all those ties, as well as his relationships at the Congress, like Sherman marched through Georgia.
Carranza restated to Cherone that a new operator was primed to develop the theater and adjacent storefronts “the right way,” although he declined to name an operator. At this point, developing the Portage “the right way” would entail no involvement from Carranza whatsoever.