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Portage Theater closed for now

Portage Theater 4050 N. Milwaukee. FILE PHOTO by Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee. FILE PHOTO by Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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Updated: June 27, 2013 7:11AM



Portage Theater owner Eddie Carranza said the doors to the historic movie palace will stay closed for several months, or at least until he can transfer a license to a new operator.

The 93-year-old landmark theater at 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. was shut down on Friday after Ald. John Arena (45th) blocked Carranza’s application for a liquor license, according to Carranza.

“I’m taking offers,” Carranza said on Saturday. “Offers are pouring in to operate [the] theater.”

The theater’s doors will stay closed until Carranza — remaining as the owner — can transfer a license to the new operator, which he said can take several months.

Arena could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Carranza, meanwhile, criticized the theater’s current operator, saying he’ll rent “to a different operator who can do a better job in operating and programming the theater then how it’s currently being operated.”

The theater is leased to an operation that exhibits classic and historic films. It’s also the home to two film societies.

Carranza has had a tempestuous relationship with Arena, who in September released an email to ward residents calling him a “liar” after he served former management with a five-day eviction notice.

Last year, neighbors rallied behind the theater’s continued use for movies and cultural events when a church had a pending deal to buy Portage. The church took back its offer and the Portage was later sold to Carranza.

Friday was a bad day for Carranza, who also learned his other entertainment venue, the Congress Theater, had lost its liquor and business licenses after a city disciplinary hearing.



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