I've got a whole city to hold down

June 03, 2005

Door Door: More

Jim DeRogatis is all over the Double Door story in today's Sun-Times.

After months of downplaying the conflict, operators of Chicago's renowned Double Door rock club said yesterday that landlords are trying to evict them in favor of a national retail chain that might pay more than quadruple the rent. ...

When it opened [in June 1994] in what had been a biker bar at the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North avenues, Wicker Park was a neighborhood in transition, with lingering traces of the seediness portrayed in Nelson Algren's famous novel,
The Man with the Golden Arm.

Thanks to the forces of gentrification, Wicker Park is now the neighborhood of the golden rents.

[Double Door partner Sean] Mulroney, who is also an attorney, said the fight isn't really about whether club operators gave legal notice to renew their lease, but about the landlords' desire to raise the rent for the space from $9 to $38 per square foot, or from approximately $45,000 a month to $190,000 -- a price that would make operating the club impossible. ...

The landlords were rumored to have been talking to the Banana Republic clothing chain about opening a store at the site. [The landlords' attorney Howard] Golden denied that the Strauss family has a specific tenant in mind. ...

Mulroney said club operators only decided to go public yesterday because they hope Chicago's music community will come to court next week to support the club. "We didn't want to do what Sue Miller did with Lounge Ax; we thought she handled that poorly," he said. ...

Both sides are optimistic that they will prevail in court, but both granted that regardless of the judge's ruling, Double Door isn't likely to close soon.

If the club owners win their case, the lease will be extended for four more years with modest increases in rent, Golden said. If the landlords win, Mulroney promises to appeal, and he said that process could drag on for as long as three years.

In other news, Double Door peeps are mounting a public letter-writing campaign on their own behalf. Late yesterday the club sent an e-mail urging bands, fans and others in the local music community to attend next week's hearing, contact Wicker Park alderman Manny Flores, and send letters to the editors of the Trib, Sun-Times and Reader.

See yesterday's post for text of the Double Door statement that started this ruckus.