CHICAGO -- Chicago could be home to one of the nation's first Latino theater and film centers -- a $50 million complex in the North Loop. Founders of the Chicago Latino Film Festival want to build the International Latino Cultural Center, complete with four theaters, an exhibition hall, a restaurant, craft shop and tourist bureau. "People need to know who we are," said Pepe Vargas, executive director of the Chicago Latino Cinema, the nonprofit group that sponsors the annual Latino film festival. ``What better way of acquainting people with Latinos than sharing our lives through our culture?"
The proposed cultural center could attract up to 10,000 visitors to the Loop each week, according to a two-page summary distributed by Chicago Latino Cinema. The northwest corner of Randolph and State is a possible site, Vargas said. Project costs are pegged at about $50 million, with 35 percent coming from the city. The Daley administration is sufficiently interested in the project to have financed a $20,000 feasibility study. A marketing study will begin shortly.
-- By Lawrence Bommer