GRAND CROSSING — A deal is close to being finalized on the sale of the New Regal Theater, but the potential buyer is not Jay Z or his wife Beyonce, officials involved in the sale said Wednesday.
The property owner as well as the real estate broker handling the sale said negotiations were nearly complete for the sale of the historic theater at 1645 E. 79th St.
"We expect the sale to be final any day now," said Greg Hernandez, a spokesman for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which acquired the 22,000-square-foot property in 2011 following the closure of Citizens Bank & Trust Company of Chicago, which previously held the loan for the theater.
Hernandez wouldn't identify the buyer or whether he or she is from Chicago. But rumors that Jay Z and Beyonce are the buyers are false, said Yolanda Valle, a broker in the Chicago office of U.S. Equities Reality that is handling the sale on behalf of the FDIC.
"All I can tell you is it is not true," she said. " ... I have not spoken with Jay Z or Beyonce."
She said "due diligence is being finalized and once that is done the name of the new owner will be announced."
Officials didn't reveal the potential sale price. The property was listed for $99,000.
Repairs would be needed before the theater, which closed in 2003, could reopen to the public, Hernandez said
"The exterior is in poor condition as evidenced by the netting strapped to the façade," he said. However, "the interior is in OK condition."
Before Citizens Bank purchased the theater it was owned by Soft Sheen Products founders Edward and Bettianne Gardner.
"We sold it if I recall for financial reasons. It takes a lot of money to run an entertainment venue," Edward Gardner said Wednesday. "I would like to see it reopen because it holds so much black history."
The Moorish-style building first opened in 1927 as the Avalon Theater, which was designed by movie palace architect John Eberson.
The city granted the New Regal landmark status on June 17, 1992, which prohibits it from being demolished or its exterior altered extensively unless for safety reasons.