The Uptown Theater rises again.
Then came the riots and the manufacturing exodus of the ’60s, and the gang wars of the ’70s. By 1978, the 2,000-seat Uptown was too small for the major acts, in an area that was too sketchy.
The neighborhood lost its heart. Then the crack epidemic eroded its soul.
“It’s not quite as daunting when you say you’re doing something at Broad and Susquehanna as it was when we started this project,” says Richardson. “The area is starting to emerge.”
Temple students occupy more of the neighborhood near the theater, and there are recent commercial projects along North Broad—a movie complex and an incoming grocery store.
The UEDC has received pledges of $3.5 million but it will take around $8 million to get the facility fully operational.
By the fall of 2011, Richardson hopes the work will be done—office and education space, expansion of the auditorium seating, maybe a restaurant on the ground floor. She expects the facility to employ around 200 people and provide educational and job-training services to residents from the surrounding community.
“The Uptown rose as a place people could go and forget their problems,” Richardson says. “We think we can create something similar there again.” ■