Building owner Greg Paulus confirmed that negotiations with a local developer to sell the Madison Street property that houses Circle Theatre have broken down, but several sources close to the pending real estate transaction said another potential buyer may have scooped up a contract for the site.
Robert Marani no longer holds the contract on the mixed-used building at 7300 Madison St., Paulus said, though he declined to comment on what snagged the discussions. Paulus, the proprietor behind Alechri Properties in Forest Park, said he is still interested in selling the building and is speaking with other interested parties.
“There was a lot of interest beyond Marani in that property,” Paulus said.
Paulus initially declined to say who he has discussed the property with, but village records confirmed that local restaurateur and property developer Art Sundry requested a full inspection of the site on Aug. 2. All four inspectors from the Department of Public Health and Safety walked through the building on Aug. 9, as did Fire Chief Steve Glinke, who said his role in an inspection is to check common areas for compliance with life-safety codes.
Sundry also hired his own inspectors to walk through the building, Glinke said.
Such a request is typical before a property title changes hands, according to Mayor Anthony Calderone, but does not guarantee that a sale will go through. Any prospective property owner would want to apply “due diligence” before making such a large investment, said Calderone.
Sundry declined to comment on his request to have the property inspected by the village and would not confirm or deny his interest in the property.
“I’ve talked to Mr. Sundry,” Paulus said without confirming any substantive negotiations. “He’s shown an interest.”
Rula Gardenier, the managing director for Circle Theatre, said Paulus is expecting to close on the property in September. Gardenier conceded she has not been informed of who the prospective owner may be.
In the event Paulus is successful in selling the property, Gardenier said the theater company will be prepared. Circle Theatre, a non-profit organization, still has roughly half of a five-year lease to remain at the address. The organization has been in the building for 18 years and is considered by many, Calderone among them, to be a major draw for the community.
Meanwhile, contingency plans are being formulated, Gardenier said.
“Honestly, we are just going to try and plan our own future based on two or three options,” Gardenier said.
Sundry is the owner of several Forest Park properties and is the proprietor behind caffe De Luca on Madison Street. The original caffe De Luca, located on Damen Avenue in Chicago, which is also owned by Sundry.
Sundry is the president of the local Main Street Redevelopment Association.
The multi-story building at 7300 Madison St. is also home to All-Star Video. A video store has rented space there for more than two decades, according to store owner Frank Romero. There are 22 apartments on the second floor, according to Sundry’s request to have the building inspected by the village.