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What To Do About Double Door

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 3, 2005 4:16PM

2005_06_03_dd.jpgIf you have an e-mail account and you’ve ever stepped foot inside a Chicago rock club, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the trouble with Double Door. Dero’s got the full story in the Sun-Times and the e-mail being passed around is posted at Double Door’s site. Essentially, Double Door is in a dispute with its landlord over the lease. DD is saying that they have the right to exercise an option to extend their current lease while the landlord is saying that DD did not give proper notice to do so. Therefore, the landlord is seeking to increase the rent that DD is charged (up from its current $9 per square foot to a reported $38 per square foot) or find another tenant if they’re unable to pay.

While the issue has suddenly come to a head this week with the impending court hearing on Thursday, rumors of Banana Republic’s interest in the space was something we blogged about way back in August of last year. With the impending loss of the Bottom Lounge, this development may be yet another blow to Chicago’s rock community, which is typically fractured until some possible doom is afoot.

Comparisons with Lounge Ax are obvious, instructive and misleading all at the same time. Yes, this is another club mired in a legal fight. But Lounge Ax, which got rope-a-doped into closing because of its long, protracted battle, was fighting City Hall whereas Double Door is essentially involved in a contract dispute. Unfortunately, the landlords are in the power position here. Absent any wrongdoing or zoning violations, alderman will generally side with the property owners in these disputes. But considering Alderman Flores has an interest in maintaining the flavor of that neighborhood and not letting it get overrun with chain stores, it’s likely he might agree to act as a mediator between the two parties (so long as he’s not inundated with angry, non-voting constituents from other wards which means be nice in those letters and don't start spouting revolution if you show up to court, Ché).

There seems to be three ways this situation might play out:

1) The Double Door’s landlord agrees to extend their current lease or both parties come to an agreement that increases the rent on the space but keeps it low enough that the club can remain operational.
2) The courts find in favor of the landlord and DD begins a long fight in the courts that ultimately will find the property owners victorious due to their deep pockets and position.
3) With Alderman Flores’s assistance, the landlords agree to give the owners of DD time to find a new space and relocate. During this time, the landlords get to charge a new tenant exorbitant rent, Chicago gets to keep a valuable music venue, and Alderman Flores gets the credit for opening a new venue and keeping the neighborhood from gentrifying. Perhaps this might also be the first action item for the Chicago Music Commission?

Help us Alderman Manny Flores, you’re our only hope.