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Chicago: Wrigleyville Is Booming, So What About The Uptown District?

Wrigleyville is booming
By Ralph Stalter

Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune wrote in February the article; As Wrigleyville booms, Uptown’s district is left in the dust. In this article, Chris talks about the increasing amount of concerts being held at Wrigley Field and the consequential development of hotels, bars, restaurants and a new plaza leading into the development of a new entertainment district. A little further north sits the Uptown District, historically the area’s zone for entertainment with a history dating back to 1917 when the Riveria Theatre was built and a collection of other historic venues. What is to happen to this area of Chicago? Can the Uptown preservationists compete against the big business of Wrigleyville? New contributor to TheatreArtLife, Ralph Stalter comments:

I firmly believe that another approach to funding for either new performing arts centers, or historic preservation of existing theatre venues, can be the sharing/taxing of a percentage of the revenues generated from these mega concerts where “music artists derive higher and higher proportions of their income from touring and thus need a lot of seats”. (Chris Jones, February 10, 2017)

Wrigleyville is boomingConsider the situation at Wrigley Field… and the impact of all this on the fate of Uptown and its historic theater, constructed in 1925. The two issues are not unrelated. The Uptown Theatre is only a bit north of Wrigley Field, but it faces completely different realities.

The Uptown is also part of an entertainment district.

An entertainment district with actual history and venues like the Riviera Theatre (1917) and Aragon Ballroom (1926). But not an entertainment district getting anything like the investment pouring into Wrigleyville.

Throughout the past two decades, the Uptown preservationists, dedicated souls committed to the long game, have argued the theater needs to be at the core of a new entertainment district involving retail, restaurants and the other venues. That is a sound argument.

But those preservationists did not anticipate precisely such a district arriving in and around the ballpark a mile or two to the south. It is hard to imagine duplicative efforts occurring anytime soon in Uptown, where the people would have to pay. At least in part.

Are there any entertainment districts in your areas under threat from big business? We’d love to hear from you. Visit our CONTRIBUTE page to submit an article.

 

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