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Philadelphia Nonprofit Aims To Reopen Historic Uptown Theater

By Kristen Johanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A group in North Philadelphia is trying to revitalize their neighborhood one building at a time, and there is one big musical monument they have been working on. On Friday night, the Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation celebrated a fundraiser and their 20th anniversary at the CBS Broadcast Center.

The Uptown Theater is 90-years old, and has welcomed some of the greatest performers of our time, like Michael Jackson, The Supremes and Patti LaBelle.

Doors were closed in 1978. But the Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation has been raising money to reopen the theater.

"The next steps are to sure-up the roof, which is in very bad condition," says President Linda Richardson, "and then reopen the lobby as a 50-seat performance venue."

The goal is to reopen the building in 2017.

"We hope to reopen the Uptown Theater and to bring a new century of entertainment," Richardson says, "so young people have the opportunity to experience what many Rhythm and Blues artists experienced in the 1950's, 60's and 70's.

The funds all go to revitalizing pockets of neighborhoods in North Philadelphia. Although they are in the middle of renovating the famed Uptown Theater, Richardson says the group is focused on several causes.

"We have a youth program," he says. "We provide young people with opportunities to be involved in science, technology, art and math.

Money that is donated goes to helping the youth program, but Richardson says they also assist families in need.

"We also have a housing program where we are helping grandparents who are raising their grandchildren to have housing of their own," he says, "so they don't have to be separated as a family.

Richardson says she's proud of what the organization has done.

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