West Chicago’s Cascade On Shaky Ground

The Cascade Drive-in of West Chicago IL is in danger of being unable to open for the 2019 season because of its landowner’s renewed efforts to sell the parcel that includes the drive-in. That’s according to a story in the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago this week.

Like too many other drive-ins, the Cascade doesn’t own the land it’s on. It dodged a bullet in 2016 when West Chicago denied the landowner’s request to redevelop the site as a truck terminal facility. “The Cascade is one of the busiest movie theaters in the country,” owner Jeff Kohlberg told the Daily Herald that year. “It’s not like it’s a dilapidated drive-in.”

Despite the Cascade’s success, its active life may be over. In this week’s story, the Daily Herald wrote, “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.”

Kohlberg said he’s reached out to his landlord, offering to continue the previous terms of his lease, operating until an actual sale then vacating within so many days. But nobody has replied, leaving the Cascade’s owner uncertain whether to begin getting ready for his traditional opener in early April.

“I’m still holding out hope,” Kohlberg said. “If we don’t open in April, it looks like it’ll never open up at all.”