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Double Door's Eviction Delayed as Court Fight Continues

By Alisa Hauser | January 27, 2016 6:27pm
 The Double Door's eviction case was continued Wednesday.
The Double Door's eviction case was continued Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — Music fans can rejoice for now: Double Door's eviction case was continued until Feb. 29.

New evidence introduced by the club's owner added a surprise twist that could drag the landlord-tenant drama on while enabling the venue to continue hosting concerts.

The twist comes as a deal to sell the 11,000-square-foot, four-story building at 1570-72 N. Milwaukee Ave. to a Downtown developer fell through, a lawyer for the Wicker Park club's landlord told Cook County Circuit Judge Orville Hambright, Jr. on Wednesday.

The loss of that possible sale, which was first revealed in county documents in December, has put the 113-year-old building back on the market.

At issue from the start has been the fact that Double Door needed to give 180 days notice if it was going to renew its lease, which expired on Oct. 31, 2015.

The day before Wednesday's hearing, club owner Sean Mulroney's attorney submitted a single-page letter dated April 24, 2015 wherein Mulroney stated he was exercising an option to extend his current lease for 3 years.

Mulroney claims that the letter asking for a lease extension was in an envelope attached to his May 2015 rent payment.

On Wednesday, Hambright granted Bonita Stone, a lawyer for the landlord of the building occupied by the club, a 7-day deadline to file a motion of discovery to request access to Double Door's computers so Stone can verify when Mulroney's letter indicating he would like to extend his lease was created.

"I don't want this to drag on; we'd like to get access to his [Mulroney's] computer in the next 7 to 10 days," Stone told Hambright.

Hambright replied, "This is not an ordinary request to check someone's computer out," and gave Stone until Feb. 3 to file the motion to learn more about the origin of the letter.

Since the lease expired, Double Door's landlord has refused to accept rent but has been accepting "use and occupancy" payments of $19,760 monthly from the club since November, an amount that has been increased to $22,970 monthly due to mutually agreed on terms by both parties on Wednesday.

The owners of Double Door, which has played host to wide-ranging acts including the Rolling Stones, Rise Against and Sonic Youth, had 180 days to renew their lease for the building at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. before it expired Oct. 31.

After the date passed, the landlord filed a legal complaint on Nov. 3 asking for a judge to order the eviction.

Brian Strauss, the building's owner, was present at the hearing. Mulroney was not in court. Both declined multiple requests for comment.

After the hearing, Stone said that Strauss never saw any such letter and that the letter is inconsistent with calls Mulroney allegedly made in October to Strauss asking to start a new lease. 

"My client said he never got such a letter," Stone said.

Earlier this month, Double Door agreed to a building inspection. Such inspections are common when there is a buyer interested in a property.  On Dec. 23, Downtown investment firm Speedwagon Properties filed an "affidavit of interest" in buying the property, according to county records. Speedwagon Properties' affidavit to buy the building at 1570-72 N. Milwaukee Ave. was accepted by the seller, Strauss, on Dec. 18 and notarized Dec. 23.

Stone declined to comment on the sale to Speedwagon that was canceled.

Stone previously acknowledged that due to the popularity of Double Door and its long history in the neighborhood, "there are a lot of people interested in its fate" but added, "I represent a landlord who wants his property back. They can delay it but only for so long."

Mulroney, and partner Joe Shanahan, owner of Metro, have declined multiple requests for comment. However, Mulroney has said, "No shows coming up are in danger; [and for those concerned] we will sell the ticket on the day of the show."

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