Jamming The Brakes On Uptown

Not so fast, says Jam Productions’ Jerry Mickelson to reports that Live Nation is negotiating with city officials to take over Chicago’s Uptown Theatre.

Mickelson disputed a report in the city’s Sun-Times that stated ownership of the building is "a matter of litigation."

"We own the property. It’s simple," Mickelson told Pollstar. "That’s the whole fallacy – [the Sun-Times report] isn’t close to being reality. We own the theatre and we own the second mortgage."

Not that there isn’t an issue of litigation. There is.

Equibase Chairman David Husman owns the first mortgage on the property. Mickelson said Jam Productions attempted to pay off the $1.3 million first mortgage, but Husman refused the payment and returned the check.

"That doesn’t stop us from doing anything other than what we’ve been trying to do and are in court over, which is trying to pay off the mortgage," Mickelson said. "We paid off the first mortgage, but they sent us our money back. We don’t believe that’s legal and that’s what we’re fighting over.

"There is no question about who owns the theatre. That’s not what the court case is about. It’s about the right to pay off the mortgage," Mickelson said. "The fact of the matter is we’ve paid off the first mortgage but Husman sent it back. I want to make it very clear that we own this theatre."

The Uptown Theatre, built in 1925, is a Chicago landmark but has sat largely vacant for the last 25 years. The city has spent at least $1 million to make emergency repairs because of water and other damage to the building.

And despite that, the building has attracted the attention of not only Jam Productions and Live Nation, but AEG also reportedly kicked the tires on the 4,300-seat theatre in 2006 and considered submitting a proposal.

The Uptown’s future is further complicated with the city’s consideration of a subsidy of up to $40 million to restore the venue after the city council authorized Mayor Richard Daley’s administration to acquire the Uptown via condemnation but has not done so.

Despite reports that the city has a lien against the building for the cost of repairs, Mickelson told Pollstar the city doesn’t have a legitimate role in negotiating a lease. "They don’t have a role. They gave the theatre some money," he said.