A prominent Madison Street property that lists Circle Theatre as its primary tenant has changed hands in a $1.5 million deal that could ultimately steer the future of the Forest Park performance group.
Art Sundry, the president of the Main Street Redevelopment Association and owner of caffé De Luca on Madison Street, scooped up the multi-use building after negotiations between the previous owner and another area developer fell through, according to Cook County property records.. Sundry purchased the property from Greg Paulus, who owned it for slightly more than seven years under an LLC bearing the building’s address, 7300 Madison St. Paulus is also the owner of Alechri Properties in Forest Park, which owns a number of area properties.
Documents maintained by the Cook County Recorder of Deeds show the deal for the Hain Building between Paulus and Sundry was inked in mid-September.
On Aug. 9, Sundry revealed himself as a potential buyer in requesting village officials to conduct an inspection of the site for code deficiencies. A team of private engineers were also called to the site to check for hazardous materials and other potential liabilities.
Sundry has declined to comment on his interest in the property and remained mum when asked what his ownership of the building might mean for the current tenants. In addition to Circle Theatre, the building is also home to a video store and 22 residential apartments.
Kevin Bellie, the artistic director for Circle Theatre, said he was aware of the transaction and looked forward to sitting down with Sundry to discuss any potential renovations or construction.
“We haven’t really discussed the future of the theater at that location as of yet,” Bellie said.
Local real estate agent Jerry Jacknow confirmed he will manage the property for Sundry and said his role will be simply to “collect the rent and pay the bills.” Jacknow declined to comment on any plans for the site and referred further questions to Sundry.
Bellie said he would like for his board of directors to meet with Sundry, Jacknow and Mayor Anthony Calderone to discuss the theater’s tenancy. Earlier this summer, Calderone stated publicly that he would support any effort to keep Circle Theatre in the community, adding that the non-profit organization serves as a major cultural and economic draw.
“We think we’ve always fit into Forest Park and we love Forest Park,” Bellie said.
Circle Theatre representatives have said they still have a lease for their space on the first floor that’s good for about 30 months. Frank Romero, the owner of All Star Video, said earlier this summer he did not have a formal lease agreement with Paulus.
A phone call to the office of Alechri Properties was not returned by Paulus.
Village Commissioner and President of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce Mark Hosty said he has every confidence in Sundry’s sense of responsible development. Given the Hain Building’s prominent location, Hosty said the issue of ownership is relevant to the general public and Sundry’s track record bodes well.
“If it’s going to work out for the best, it’s definitely in the right hands,” Hosty said.
In addition to the upscale restaurant Sundry owns in Forest Park, he’s also the landlord for Shop Colette, a trendy boutique at 7439 Madison St. that opened earlier this year. In Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, home to the original caffé De Luca, Sundry owns a number of retail properties as well.