CHICAGO (CBS) — The CBS 2 Morning Insiders recently spotted a Facebook post about an old marquee at a famous Portage Park neighborhood cinema.
As CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reports, the beat-up Patio Theater sign is to the point where it looks like it could collapse. But there is a plan to restore not just the sign, but the whole venue.
The theater is located at 6008 W. Irving Park Rd., on a far western strip of the busy thoroughfare. And it’s a show of history.
“It’s an antique,” said Steve Zoldowski. “Wow! It was a great place.”
But now it’s a place with a bit of drama.
“If you want to save it, now’s the time to do it,” Zoldowski said.
Zoldowski’s childhood treasure is not exactly shiny from the outside. The Patio Theater marquee is, one could say, busted up.
Its demise, and fears it will fall, have been making the rounds on social media.
The Chicago Department of Buildings seems concerned too. The Patio Theater failed at least six inspections in the past year, and several citations involve the sign – though results from the most recently available inspection say “damage is superficial and not structural.”
Ald. Nicholas Sposato echoes that the marquee is safe, and he blames its unsightly dings on trucks screaming by.
“They clip it, sideswipe it,” Sposato said.
When the city widened Irving Park Road years ago, the historic marquee wound up too close to the street.
But if the solution posed is to make the curb longer, Sposato confirmed he will say, “Not with my money.”
So where does that leave things?
“It needs a lot of work; a good investor, you know what I’m saying?” Zoldowski said. “And it’s back!”
Zoldowski is onto something.
“So this theater is doing a lot of different events,” said concert promoter Chris Bauman.
Bauman has rented Patio Theater since 2018, and any day now will be its new owner.
“I wanted to control kind of A-to-Z the entirety of people’s experiences when they come not only to a show, but to the building,” he said.
Over the past year, that has meant fixing broken seats, brightening up old paint, restoring the lobby, and researching what to do about the marquee.
“The options range anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000,” Bauman said.
That is an expense the Patio Theater can’t afford on paper right now. CBS 2 counted $11,007.44 due in back taxes, and another $41,737 owed in water bills.
“That’s all getting paid off,” Bauman said.
It’s part of his pending deal to officially take the reins.
“Just a very cool, diverse, premier venue in the city,” he said. “I’m hopeful.”
And he added, “with a fixed sign.”
Victory got her hands on a recent court order involving the Patio Theater. It requires a concrete barrier to be placed below the marquee to prevent vehicles from hitting the sign.
Bauman’s real estate closing is expected to happen this week.