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New Regal Theater Bought for $100,000

By Wendell Hutson | March 5, 2014 11:57am
 The New Reagal Theater in South Chicago was acquired last month by Community Capital Investment LLC.
The New Reagal Theater in South Chicago was acquired last month by Community Capital Investment LLC.
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

SOUTH CHICAGO — The storied New Regal Theater has been sold, but not to entertainment mogul Jay Z.

While Jay Z had been rumored to be interested in the building, Chicago-based Community Capital Investment closed on the sale of the building last month for $100,000, Greg Hernandez, a spokesman for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said Wednesday.

The 22,000-square-foot property at 1641 E. 79th St. went up for sale after its owners, husband and wife Ronald and Regina Evans, were indicted last year on tax fraud after they were accused of using part of a $1.25 million state grant as personal income. The two have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

The plans for the theater are unknown. Community Capital Investment targets "the underserved demand for rental housing in our country's cities," the firm's website says.

Jerald Gary, president of the firm, was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Gary worked in technology management at Chicago-based Electronic Knowledge Interchange and at Killerspin LLC, the website says.  He also sits on the Associate Board of Providence-St. Mel School and is a President’s Circle member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The Moorish-style theater first opened in 1927 as the Avalon Theater, which was designed by movie palace architect John Eberson.

Several prominent black entertainers performed at the Bronzeville Regal theater, including Lou Rawls, Nat King Cole, Etta James, Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield, and Cab Calloway.

Soft Sheen Products founders Edward and Bettianne Gardner owned the theater for years, but sold it "around 1987," Gardner said.

"I would like to see it reopen because it holds so much black history," he said.

The city granted the New Regal landmark status on June 17, 1992, which prohibits it from being demolished or its exterior altered extensively unless it's for safety reasons.

The Evanses bought the New Regal in 2008 with the intention of renovating it.

In August, rumors swirled that Jay Z had made an offer to purchase the theater, but Yolanda Valle, a broker in the Chicago office of U.S. Equities Reality that handled the sale on behalf of the FDIC, denied the entertainer had come forward.

"All I can tell you is it is not true," Valle told DNAinfo Chicago at the time. "I have not spoken with Jay Z."