“One of two main parties working to reopen the Uptown Theatre has backed out of the project, but plans to renovate the historic theater are still in the works, according to the venue’s owner.
“Farpoint Development is no longer involved in the efforts to revitalize the Uptown Theatre, the legendary movie palace and concert hall that has been shuttered since 1981. Jerry Mickelson, owner of the theater and founder of JAM Productions, and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) confirmed the news Monday.
“Mickelson and Farpoint Development joined city leaders in 2018 to announce a $75 million plan to restore and reopen the Uptown Theatre, 4816 N. Broadway. The project was meant to revive a landmark building that would anchor a revamped Uptown entertainment district, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the time. Construction was originally slated to begin in summer 2019, but the date came and went.
“Then the coronavirus pandemic swept in, causing a shutdown of the entertainment industry that endures one year later. Farpoint Development’s decision to back out of the project throws up yet another obstacle for the project. The Sun-Times on Monday first reported the news of Farpoint’s decision.
“Despite the setbacks, Mickelson said his efforts to reopen the Uptown are moving forward.
“Mickelson and Farpoint Development’s plans envisioned restoring the venue to its Jazz Age grandeur. On top of restoring the building’s facade and historic features, the project would have increased capacity from 4,300 to 5,800, installed removable seats on the first floor and added a new marquee.
“The project was boosted by $40 million in public funding, including from an Uptown tax increment financing district and the city’s adopt-a-landmark fund. Project leaders were on their own to secure the remaining $35 million, which proved to be a challenge. By November 2019, Mickelson and Farpoint still needed to raise $26 million, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
“Cappleman said the project still retains its public funding and is likely to get back on track in a post-coronavirus world.” (Ward, Block Club Chicago, 3/22/21)
Preservation Chicago has been a longtime advocate for the restoration and reuse of the Uptown Theatre.
Developer Drops Out Of Uptown Theatre Project, But Owner Says Plan Still On To Rehab Historic Venue: ‘It’s Got A Bright Future’; Farpoint Development no longer is attached to the project to rehab the historic Uptown Theatre, which hasn’t hosted shows since 1981, Joe Ward, Block Club Chicago, 3/22/21