Chicago: City wants Congress Theater shut down immediately

len

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I worked at the Congress a couple times 5 - 6 years ago. It was bad then. That list is the tip of the iceberg.
 

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We had a very similar thing happen here with the exact same type of shows, courts kept the venue open. They cited zoning laws and a few building condition things. NY Supreme court stepped in and kept the place open.

There is a TON of money to be made at these shows... but many municipalities will do anything they can to keep them out. Lets all face it, any inspector can find a reason to shut down any theatre at any time if they want to (or are told to). All the things in this report could be fixed in a matter of days for not that much money.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Seems like authorities have let this go for a long time. If egress is blocked, lock the doors. That's number one. Even if not a fire the hazard of an unplanned emergency evacuation is serious. Clearly the owners and operators have no regard for the safety of the occupants.
 

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Seems like authorities have let this go for a long time. If egress is blocked, lock the doors. That's number one. Even if not a fire the hazard of an unplanned emergency evacuation is serious. Clearly the owners and operators have no regard for the safety of the occupants.

Totally agree. And the fire marshal should be able to do that, even without a court order.
 
I have worked at the Congress dozens of times...I will share some really great photos of the place. But yes, this theater needs help. Everything is ancient and falling apart (Except for the lovely new sound system they have there now). Last I saw a 2x4 wedged between a rather large throw switch (looked like an old school breaker), and the ground, keeping it from closing.

The rigging room above the dome scares the hell out of me, wood plankways to get to the points. Working late at night (early morning) cleaning up after a show, we could hear people and see shadows in the room above the dome, even though all crew was on the stage.

Out of the many times I have worked there, each time has cost me more money than I made working there. (Parking tickets, smashed thumbs, broken gear...etc). I can totally see this place as a hazard. I believe the only thing keeping this place open is nostalgia.
 

derekleffew

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... All the things in this report could be fixed in a matter of days for not that much money.
From Congress Theater to Remain Open This Weekend, But More Inspections to Come - DNAinfo.com Chicago :
Most of the 26 "dangerous and hazardous" building code violations listed in the city's Friday motion have been resolved, Frydland said. Among the violations were obstructions of emergency exits, exposed wires, defective lighting, missing fire extinguishers and an broken ventilation system.


(Note this date and time: Footer was right.)
 

gafftapegreenia

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That sounds (and looks, from the pictures I see) like an absolutely wicked place to explore. Although I agree, that is a huge list of problems, every one of them major. Having patrons in there with those conditions is nuts.
 

BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
The owner probably contributes to the local alderman. It is Chicago and Illinois - where only the non-corrupt politician is rare.
 

len

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The owner probably contributes to the local alderman. It is Chicago and Illinois - where only the non-corrupt politician is rare.

Yes, and no. One other reason is that there's a couple real estate developers who have a lot of money pouring into that neighborhood. Net profits of 4 - 10 times initial investment are common. The rehabbing they're doing isn't bad, but it's not great, either. The area is gentrifying. So having this bad press about a focal point in the neighborhood hurts their margins and they've been squelching it as best they can.
 

JChenault

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I noticed in Derek's attachment that one of the violations was for no carbon monoxide detector.

I have not heard of this being a requirement before. Is it just because there is an emergency generator on site. Is this a standard Chicago thing, or what?
 

SteveB

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I noticed in Derek's attachment that one of the violations was for no carbon monoxide detector.

I have not heard of this being a requirement before. Is it just because there is an emergency generator on site. Is this a standard Chicago thing, or what?

Curious about that as well. We just had a new generator installed and tested, the mezzanine emergency lighting didn't work, but it was noted for repair. As I read the list I was happy to realize that our building is in pretty good shape. The college as well as the construction management contractor for our new facility, have spent a lot of money keeping things up to code. But I've never heard of CO2 detectors required and we don't have them. Then again, none of our heating systems are gas/oil, it's all across campus and the generator is outside.
 

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I noticed in Derek's attachment that one of the violations was for no carbon monoxide detector.

I have not heard of this being a requirement before. Is it just because there is an emergency generator on site. Is this a standard Chicago thing, or what?

Years ago Illinois passed a law that they had to be in all rental units. Would not surprise me if this extended to commercial property.

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zmb

Well-Known Member
But I've never heard of CO2 detectors required and we don't have them. Then again, none of our heating systems are gas/oil, it's all across campus and the generator is outside.

CO is a poisonous gas that is a byproduct from combustion. I don't know what requirements there are for having alarms anywhere, besides the strong recommendation that each floor of a house heated with gas, oil, wood, or other fuel have a detector.

CO2 is what anything living breathes out along with being the major byproduct of combustion. At least in Washington, many new buildings where people congregate (theaters, cafeterias, classrooms) are having sensors installed to economize HVAC systems. I don't know if it is in the building code or not, but is probably a part of minimum LEED requirements. Only as much fresh air as needed to maintain healthy levels is then pumped into the space instead of running systems at full speed.
 

JChenault

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CO is a poisonous gas that is a byproduct from combustion. I don't know what requirements there are for having alarms anywhere, besides the strong recommendation that each floor of a house heated with gas, oil, wood, or other fuel have a detector.

CO2 is what anything living breathes out along with being the major byproduct of combustion. At least in Washington, many new buildings where people congregate (theaters, cafeterias, classrooms) are having sensors installed to economize HVAC systems. I don't know if it is in the building code or not, but is probably a part of minimum LEED requirements. Only as much fresh air as needed to maintain healthy levels is then pumped into the space instead of running systems at full speed.

I meant CO not CO2. I know that CO2 sensors are becoming standard for CO2 sensors in HVAC system for efficency. I had not run into CO sensors being required.

Humm - rereading this post, I realized you were not responding to me. Never mind.
 

len

Well-Known Member
I think CO detectors are required in all buildings in Illinois now. It's not well enforced in residential properties, but commercial properties are supposed to be inspected regularly.

One other sucky thing about the venue is the load in is street level, no dock, and the alley is so narrow it's impossible to get even a 40' local truck through. If you have a trailer, you stop on the street, dump and push down the alley, which is bad because of the broken asphalt.
 

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