Uptown Theater sold to Jam Productions

posted by jimvid on July 29, 2008 at 11:05 pm

CHICAGO, IL — The auction announced last week happened and a buyer stepped up. In what will hopefully be good news for the future of the Uptown Theater, Jam Productions purchased the property for $3.2 million.

Without any drama, a venture led by concert promoter Jam Productions Ltd. bought the historic Uptown Theatre on Tuesday for $3.2 million in a court-ordered foreclosure sale.

Jam principal Jerry Mickelson was the only bidder for the long-vacant theater at 4816 N. Broadway. The sale price was essentially a “credit bid” that covers repayment of about $1.8 million owed on a first mortgage and $1.4 million owed on a second mortgage that’s held by Mr. Mickelson’s group.

Mr. Mickelson, who has said he plans to restore the Uptown, declined comment on the sale.

Read the full story in Chicago Real Estate Daily.

UPDATE 7/30: Read more for Uptown Advisor story.

UPTOWN THEATRE, Chicago, sold for $3.2 million

Local media is reporting that Chicago-based JAM Productions purchased the UPTOWN THEATRE, Chicago, 4816 N. Broadway, today in a judicial sale for $3.2 million. It was also reported that JAM was backed in-part by real-esate developer Joseph Freed and Associates.

JAM is led by local personalities Jerry Mickelson and Arny Granat. The development company is led by Laurance “Larry” Freed, who succeeded his father in the business.

“In addition to receiving court approval, Mickelson must also resolve some $1.8 million in liens that the city has against the Uptown related to maintenance work the city performed. That puts the total cost of the theater at roughly $5 million, a fraction of the $40 million that’s estimated to be required to renovate the building that’s lain fallow since closing in 1981,” Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

UPTOWN ADVISER readers may recall JAM’s early days at the UPTOWN when it hosted many successful rock shows there. You may also know JAM from the operation of its RIVIERIA, VIC and PARK WEST venues in Chicago, etc.

We look forward to seeing JAM’s plans for restoring and reusing the historic UPTOWN. And, we wish JAM the best in completing this monumental task.

You may recall suburban real-estate developer Freed from the renovations of the Mentor and Carson Pirie Scott buildings on State Street, the development of Block 37, and the renovation two buildings on historic Uptown Square. That project on the “Goldblatt’s” block saved the Sheridan Trust and Loren Miller buildings and demolished the Plymouth/Uptown Hotel building.

The scope of what the UPTOWN needs can be compared to very few theatre restoration projects in the U.S. However, a similar venue in need of renovation and reuse is the Loew’s KINGS THEATRE in Brooklyn, which is owned by the New York Economic Development Corp. The NYEDC recently completed yet another RFP process for that project.

JAM Productions

Joseph Freed and Associates

Crain’s on the UPTOWN sale

Chris Jones, Tribune theater critic on the UPTOWN

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight

CBS News 2 Chicago

UPTOWN ADVISER is a volunteer service of
Friends of the Uptown, all rights reserved.
Friends of the Uptown is an outreach activity
of Landmark Uptown Theatre Corp., an Illinois
not-for-profit corporation.

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View: http://www.uptowntheatre.com

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Comments (8)

GaryParks on July 30, 2008 at 4:50 am

Wow—last year I did some simple Moorish decorative painting in the home theatre of a brand new $5 million Tuscan style house in Los Altos, in the Bay Area. The theatre seats maybe 20. For this Californian to hear that the largest movie palace ever built in Chicago (and one of the ten largest ever built in the nation) has been sold for only $3.2 Million…just boggles my mind. Granted, millions will have to be put into it, but still.

TheaterBuff1 on July 30, 2008 at 5:27 am

I’d be curious to know just how operable this theater is here and now, even though it might be a bit worn for the wear. All the successful theater restorations I’m aware of operated at some capacity during the restoration period, while I don’t know of any successful theater restorations that didn’t. To me fully shutting a theater down until it’s completely restored comes down to second guessing what the public will like when it finally reopens. It’s like custom tailoring a suit for somebody without having around the person who the suit is being custom tailored for, and hoping it will fit right when it’s finally completed. And I say why do that when there’s many people who would love to attend the theater while it’s undergoing its restorational evolution? from an audience point of view there’s something endearing about that experience, a sense of connectedness, like having grown up with somebody and having come through all the thick and thin. So I hope its new owner will consider that strategy.

k1052 on July 30, 2008 at 3:02 pm

From what I’ve seen of the interior there is no way they can operate during a restoration. The city would never grant even a temporary occupancy permit. That would probably slow work and cost even more money anyway. The theatre has been closed for nearly 30 years, it can wait a couple more while being worked on.

GFeret on July 30, 2008 at 7:47 pm

It seems to me JAM went for the UPTOWN lock, stock, & barrel because:

a) they already had a stake in it, this was an easy next move;
b) having it effectively blocks competition; why not? Monopoly time;
c) @ $3.2 mil. I judge it a steal for the type of property it is.
This is after all the time of a buyers market.

I say things like this because since JAM already has the RIVIERA plus books other places nearby, I ask do they really need the UPTOWN for more shows? No, somehow I don’t think so.

The issue of restoration they’re supposed to do on it I maintain is a distant secondary matter. It’ll happen but only how and when they feel like it. “Why rush?”

Yeah, cynical mood. But I like to breathe more often than not, so I ain’t gonna hold my breath now that UPTOWN ownership is clearly resolved for a magical new lease on life to occur that’ll please people like us on CinemaTreasures.org.

TheaterBuff1 on July 31, 2008 at 7:08 am

When I said what I did, I wasn’t sure what shape the Uptown is currently in. But if it must be fully closed for restoration, I like the fact that the restoration plan has a timeline. When I hear that I think, ah, now we’re talking! There also appears to be a set budget outline, too. Another, great!

terrywade on August 2, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Just because Jam bought the building doesn’t tell the story on what they are going to do with it. It may be turned into a huge night club with no seats and levels of bars. Or they can cut it up and turn it into mega mini movie theatres. They may want to put in a Imax type system upstairs and a comedy night club downstairs. The Jam people need to bring in some other type of entertainment into this huge theatre that will draw all kinds of people not just the rock crowd. Thanks and good luck on bringing this great Uptown Theatre back to life!

TheaterBuff1 on August 3, 2008 at 6:38 am

All those alternative ways to restore the Uptown you list would pretty much be as bad as just going ahead and tearing it down completely! However it gets restored, the end result must be that it has all the look and feel of the Uptown at its best. For as theaters go, this one is hardly small change. I regard it as one of the greatest movie palaces in the country, if not the world, even in its current ruinous state. It fully makes clear why Cornelius & George Rapp were the greatest movie theater architects of all time. To give an analogy, if Michelangelo were to reappear in today’s world looking for some place to fit in, what would we tell him? “Hmmm, well maybe we can possibly use you designing store window mannequins over at that new clothing boutique up on the next block”? I mean, come on! We’re talking Rapp & Rapp here! And this theater is one of their greatest masterpieces, and we need to revere it accordingly. And I hope that’s not a difficult thing for those currently deciding its future to come to grips with, otherwise this country over all is in far worse shape than I originally thought!

TLSLOEWS on February 12, 2010 at 12:19 am

Lets hope they do something good with it.

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