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Friday, July 16, 2010

Merc trader buys closed Esquire Theater

You know I would love to attend a show at a revitalized Esquire assuming that re-opening this movie house is in the plans of the new owners:
A Chicago trader has acquired the Esquire Theater on Oak Street, reviving hope that the long vacant property will be redeveloped into a luxury shopping complex, the Chicago Tribune has learned.

Don Wilson Jr., owner of Chicago-based DRW Holdings LLC, has quietly been buying the retail properties of financially strapped M Development LLC, the real estate firm of Chicago developer Mark Hunt, according to records filed with Cook County and Illinois.Among the prominent properties now under the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trader’s control is the Esquire Theater and adjacent lot along the high-end shopping street, stretching from 58 to 104 E. Oak St.

Efforts to redevelop the historic Gold Coast movie house have stalled since the theater shut down in September 2006. M Development had plans, created at the height of the real estate boom, to demolish the theater and build a boutique hotel and luxury shops.  That never happened.

After failing to receive zoning permission from the city to build the 10-story hotel, M Development revised the plan in 2008 to build a three-story luxury shopping complex.  That project stalled as well amid the global economic crisis and drop in luxury spending.

The building has been empty in the middle of the one-block strip for almost four years, contributing to the high vacancy on the internationally recognized street that is home to designer stores including Harry Winston, Hermes, Prada and Jimmy Choo.
Check out the comments. I think there might be a lot of support for re-opening the Esquire as a movie house.

BTW, I wish they could re-open McClurg Court. Although there is an AMC not far from there. McClurg Court was where I saw Mississippi Burning many years ago!

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