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Oprah Winfrey Closing Harpo Studios In December, Moving To New LA Digs

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 3, 2015 10:15PM

It's the end of an era on Chicago's Near West Side. Oprah Winfrey announced Tuesday that Harpo Studios, where she produced her eponymous talk show for two decades, is closing in December. The move allows Winfrey to consolidate production facilities for her Oprah Winfrey Network in West Hollywood, California.

The move has been a long time coming. Winfrey began exploring selling her West Loop complex in October 2013 and the four-building, 170,000 square foot complex was purchased by commercial real estate developer Sterling Bay Cos. last year for $30.5 million. OWN bought their West Hollywood complex two months ago and, though Winfrey has a lease on Harpo Studios through April 2016, the commute between LA and Chicago for production will cease starting today.

Winfrey waxed nostalgic about the move to The Hollywood Reporter.

"[Chicago has] been everything for me. I've spent more hours in this building than I have any other building on Earth. ... We were here when there was nothing but hoes and rats on the street, and now it's one of the hottest neighborhoods [in Chicago]," she says, noting that OWN will stop shooting shows there as of Tuesday. "The time had come to downsize this part of the business and to move forward. It will be sad to say goodbye, but I look ahead with such a knowing that what the future holds is even more than I can see."

Winfrey opened Harpo Studios in 1990 when the neighborhood it inhabits wasn't yet called the West Loop. Her commitment to the neighborhood and the jobs her show created spurred a gentrification cycle that transformed the area into one of Chicago's hottest residential and commercial real estate locations, while the surrounding restaurants around Randolph Street that followed make up arguably Chicago's most popular dining district.

Winfrey personally delivered the news to staff in Chicago Tuesday.