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City files emergency motion against Congress Theater after site fails inspection

Updated: May 19, 2013 7:51AM

The city threw the book at the Congress Theater Wednesday after its latest failed inspection, filing an emergency motion that could force controversial owner Eddie Carranza to close the theater and couldgive police the power to remove him if he doesn’t do so himself.

The lengthy motion details 26 violations at the theater in the 2100 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, including a faulty electrical system, bare electrical cable wires strewn throughout the basement and defective lights.

“Based on the dangerous and hazardous nature of the building code violations, it is clear that the Congress Theater is a public nuisance and the continued operation of the business poses a continued harm to the occupants and the public,” the motion said.

The theater’s ventilation system above the stage, which is designed to vent flames and smoke in case of a fire is “totally disabled,” Monday’s inspection revealed. “This condition poses an extremely dangerous hazard as the flames and smoke will back draft into the occupied auditorium putting all patrons at risk.”

The ventilation system is inoperable, with the vents blocked and sealed, according to the documents.

“There is no fresh air supply to patrons, nor is there any exhaust of polluted air from the theater,” court documents show.

Other violations include missing fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors and an “old and dilapidated” catwalk used for lighting, which is at risk of collapsing.

“This condition poses a hazard to any unexpecting employee,” the document said.

Carranza must appear for a preliminary hearing before Judge James McGing on Thursday at the Daley Center. If the court issues a preliminary injunction, the theater will be prohibited from being rented, leased or occupied.

If Carranza doesn’t immediately leave the theater, the injunction would give police power to help get him out.

The motion was submitted Wednesday morning by the city’s senior counsel Kimberly Roberts and is the latest of troubles for Carranza, who is already facing administrative hearings with the Chicago Liquor Commission and deleterious impact and public nuisance hearings that could result in the revocation of licenses. His next hearing is scheduled for April 30.

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