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West Chicago, IL: Land Sale Possibility Darkens Future of Cascade Drive-In

Posted on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 12:12 PM

Google Street View Image of Theater

The future of the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago, Illinois is in doubt, due to the fact that the land upon which the theater sits is for sale, and the drive-in cannot get its lease renewed.

The Daily Herald published a news article recently that details the situation for the single-screen theater:

The lease that allowed the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago to operate along North Avenue has expired, leaving owner Jeff Kohlberg uncertain of its future.

The theater has been here since 1961, offering double features rain or shine with the tagline "Movies Under the Stars." The Cascade and the McHenry Outdoor Theater have been the only drive-ins in the region for years as rising land values led others to be converted to more profitable uses.

To stay alive, the Cascade began showing digital films in 2013. It continued to draw large crowds with low ticket prices and the promise of a nostalgic atmosphere that blends the scents of an old-school concessions stand with the sounds of movie lines and songs emanating from pole-mounted speakers.

But the theater doesn't own the 28-acre site on which it sits, and the family that does is working to sell the land.

The Kuhn family owns the drive-in site and adjacent parcels totaling 53 acres, including a hot dog stand and the former headquarters of Harry Kuhn Construction. Stephen Kuhn said he has hired a new real estate broker to sell the site to a developer, ideally all in one piece.

Brokerage firm NAI Hiffman is "exploring all possibilities" for the land, Kuhn said. The theater's long-term lease expired Dec. 31, and Kuhn said his family hired the broker shortly thereafter. The land, however, has been for sale for at least nine years, making each summer of drive-in movies a precious one to loyal fans.

Click the Read link below to view the full article.

The theater is located just south of North Avenue (Highway 64), about 1.3 miles east of Highway 59, in the far-western Chicago suburb. It is the only drive-in within 30 miles, with the Golden Age Cinemas - McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry about 31 miles to the north.

Time will tell if the theater will re-open this year. The article mentions that it needs to begin preparations now if it is to open as planned in early April, so here's hoping that movie fans can watch their favorite flicks under the stars again this year!

Image above: Google Maps Street View image of the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago, Illinois. Dated August 2017. © 2019 Google

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