Uptown Theater to undergo $75M renovation

CHICAGO --- The Uptown Theater was once the gilded crown jewel of a national theater chain. It was the largest free-standing theater in the country and one of the largest ever built. The theater opened in 1925 but like so many grand theaters, audiences shrank, the ornate beauty began to crumble and The Uptown was boarded up in 1981.

35 years later, the theater, located at 4816 North Broadway Avenue, is poised to be transformed back into its original glory in a $75 million renovation.

The new plan part of Mayor Emanuel's attempt to set up an entertainment district at Broadway Avenue and Lawrence Avenue, with the Uptown and Riviera theaters and the Aragon Ballroom as anchors.

The money will come from both public and private sources including tax increment financing, state bonds and federal tax credits with developers are spending $25 million to bring the theatre back from the near dead.

Emanuel took a tour Friday. He has been working with developers and community members for two years.

“I believe when this is done, the future will be as bright if not brighter than the past,” he said.

The plan includes a new pedestrian plaza, sculpture and public stage.

Streetscape construction will be finished this summer.

Developers are still finalizing architectural plans and said construction should start later this year.