Cascade Drive-In theater trying to make a comeback

  • The Cascade Drive-In movie theater in West Chicago.

    The Cascade Drive-In movie theater in West Chicago. Daily Herald file photo, 2019

 
 
Updated 5/1/2020 10:37 AM

The shuttered Cascade Drive-In movie theater in West Chicago may be coming back to life.

Theater owner Jeff Kohlberg said Thursday he is talking about the possibility with the new owners of the property along North Avenue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have been working on it with many people," he said. "I think it is looking good."

Kohlberg cautioned fans, however, that nothing has been set and that even if an agreement is signed, he doesn't know how long it will take to get the necessary work done.

For example, he said there is only one company that makes in-car speakers and film distributors may not have a product ready to show before July 1.

Kohlberg said he is getting cost estimates for reoutfitting and refurbishing the site. Much of the Cascade's equipment -- including the projection and audio systems, payment equipment and concession equipment -- was sold when it closed, he said.

He also wants to update the concessions building and the restrooms.

"It's going to come back a lot better than it was before," Kohlberg said.

The site at North Avenue and Prince Crossing Road was sold in June 2019 to East North Avenue LLC, according to DuPage County property records. The sale price is not listed, but calculating from the property transfer tax stamp on the deed, East North Avenue LLC paid $8.25 million for about 53 acres, including the 28-acre theater site. The rest of the land was used by the owner's construction business.

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There has been a drive-in movie theater on the property since 1961. Kohlberg operated it the past 30 years, until the property's previous owner declined to renew the lease in late 2018.

Kohlberg said he believes that once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, drive-in theaters will be a popular moviegoing choice for those tired of watching movies at home.

"You can't find a safer place than your own car," he said.

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