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Piper’s Alley Movie Theater Now Dark

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The legendary Second City improv club is still drawing a throng to the Old Town neighborhood, but next door, the Piper’s Alley movie theater has gone dark.

The four-screen theater, at 1680 N. Wells St., closed on Thursday after 20 years in business. The last movie shown was the documentary “I Am” by Tom Shaydac.

Crain’s Chicago Business reported that owner AMC Theatres decided to close the movie theater because, as quoted in a statement, it “no longer competes effectively in the marketplace.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that owner of the space, Old Town Development Associates LLC, has been looking for a new company to take over and reopen the theater. But Second City will not be using the space, given that it is already expanding to the space in the complex previously occupied by Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, the newspaper reported.

When Piper’s Alley opened in 1991, it featured state-of-the-art 70mm projection capabilities and a schedule loaded with arthouse and indie films, Time Out Chicago reported.

But in recent years, Time Out says the theater has degraded to what it calls “all the ambience and sky-high pricing of a mall-multiplex theater, but with the barely functioning projection equipment and worn-down seating of a neighborhood one-screen.”

The Second City main stage and its smaller e.t.c. stage are located in the same mall as the theater Piper’s Alley, although Second City occupied the space well before the surrounding mall was constructed. An XSport Fitness center, a Fleet Feet Sports store, a Starbucks and a Chipotle also operate from the mall.

The Piper’s Alley name comes from an actual alley that was once adjacent to a bakery founded by Henry Piper in the 19th century. The building that housed Piper’s Bakery, at 1610 N. Wells St. next door to Second City, is now occupied by the Adobo Grill. It was reputed to be haunted in its previous incarnation at That Steak Joynt.

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