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Congress Theater almost finished with city-mandated repairs

Updated: May 9, 2013 4:22PM

The news didn’t appear so bleak for Congress Theater owner Eddie Carranza at a Thursday court hearing, as lawyers attested the embattled Logan Square theater is on its way to being done with its city-mandated repairs.

If the theater passes a lighting inspection, the second-floor balcony could be opened to concertgoers by May 23, the theater’s next city court hearing, according to an agreed court order.

Last month, the city filed an emergency motion that could have forced Carranza to shutter the theater at 2135 N. Milwaukee. The lengthy motion detailed 26 violations, including a faulty electrical system, bare electrical cable wires strewn throughout the basement and defective lights.

But city attorney Judy Frydland said the theater has done very well in correcting those violations.

“They’re continuing to work. We see a light at the end of the tunnel, such as they’re making process in the system 1 lighting [used for safety], and they have done some of the other work that we’ve asked them to do,” Frydland said.

Attorneys agreed the theater would remove wooden platforms on both the first and second floors used to improve the view of those standing in the back. Crews sprayed the boards with fire-resistant material, but the city is requiring them to remove those platforms and replace them with steel platforms, Frydland said.

The theater must also move some of the portable bars, which the city believes are in the way of an exit path. And the theater must reapply for an occupancy card for its lobby, auditorium and second floor.

Congress lawyer Demetris Kare said Carranza “is making great strides in achieving compliance with the municipal code of Chicago.”

“We will continue to cooperate and move forward, but as you can see, things are definitely moving in a positive direction,” Kare said. “Things are looking up nicely.”

Kare said he believes the Congress is being used as an example by the city in regards to music venues.

“I feel that we are being used as an example, because we’ve been operating for the past eight years, lawfully,” Kare said.

Carranza still faces another “deleterious impact” hearing later this year in which the city is determing whether the theater is hurting the community. He’s also awaiting a a ruling from the Liquor Control Commission hearing which could strip the venue of its liquor license.

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