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Double Door Eviction Judge Losing Patience, Tells Owner 'Game Time is Over'

By Alisa Hauser | March 1, 2016 9:47am | Updated on March 1, 2016 2:06pm
 Film trucks for the movie
Film trucks for the movie "Chi-Raq" park outside Double Door.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — The music — including this weekend's sold-out Less than Jake shows — will continue at Double Door, though a Cook County judge told a lawyer for the iconic club to relay a message to her client: "Let him know that game time is over."

The comment by Judge Orville Hambright Jr. during eviction court on Monday came after the music club's lawyer, arguing that the building is "a significant commercial property," asked for more time in which to respond to another twist in its ongoing case.

Hambright has requested to speak directly to the club's owners — Sean Mulroney and business partner Joe Shanahan — at a hearing scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

For the last several court appearances, Mulroney and Shanahan have not shown up in court, though the building owner, landlord Brian Strauss, has been at every hearing. Strauss' lawyers are requesting that they be allowed to regain possession of the ground floor and basement of the approximately 17,000-square-foot building at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Earlier this month, Strauss' lawyers filed a motion of discovery to take Double Door's computers to find the origin of a letter that Mulroney claims to have written and delivered in April asking to exercise the option of renewing his lease for another three years.

A response by Double Door to that request is due on Thursday to Hambright.

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

William Dorsey, a lawyer for Strauss, said that there was no letter mailed by certified mail and no evidence that the letter was received. Dorsey described the past few months to Hambright as "a pile upon pile effort of this tenant to delay these proceedings."  

"We are getting games played with us," said Dorsey, who said he has had discussions with Double Door's lawyer, Cary Schiff, about an "intent of tenant to delay discovery."

Among the moves Dorsey characterized as delay tactics include Mulroney writing "rent" on recent occupancy checks instead of "use and occupancy." Strauss has refused to cash a recent check for $19,760 because accepting a rent check would be not be accurate, since there is no lease, Dorsey said.

Also, another recent check for just over $3,000 was made out to Strauss himself instead of his "1572 N. Milwaukee LLC" entity and marked "dividends" in its memo line. Dorsey said that check was not cashed because only "use and occupancy" would be accepted.

Dorsey called both checks violations of two separate court orders.

Hambright appeared to agree.

"I want the checks made out properly to the person they need to be made out to. ... Hopefully they will take this seriously, and we can move along. If they don't, there will be penalties. I will dictate them," Hambright said.

Currently, the club's first floor and basement are listed for rent, according to a commercial real estate listing, which is asking $90 per square foot for the 5,000 square-foot first floor, and $20 per-square-foot for the 5,000 square-foot basement.

That would put the asking monthly rent for the first floor at $37,500 and the basement rent at $8,333.

The rental listings come after an offer from Speedwagon Properties to buy the mixed-use, 113-year-old building that houses Double Door and 11 upstairs apartments fell through. The purchase agreement was struck on Dec. 23, 2015, and was canceled on Jan. 26, county records show.

In January, Shanahan told Tribune rock critic Greg Kot, "We've done the Rolling Stones, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Flaming Lips, Greg Dulli and so many important artists there. It supports the community. We want to stay."

Double Door opened in 1994.

Related coverage:

Double Door Eviction Delayed as Court Fight Continues (Jan. 27)

Double Door Eviction Fight: Music to Continue as Case Drags On (Jan. 8)

Double Door Building Sale to Downtown Investors Underway, Records Show (Jan. 5)

Double Door's Landlord Could be Close to Selling Iconic Club's Building (Dec. 17, 2015)

Lawyer in Double Door Eviction Case: 'Time for Them to Go' (Dec. 10, 2015)

Double Door Liquors, Iconic Wicker Park Music Venue, Facing Eviction (Dec. 3, 2015)

Vintage Bass Guitar Missing After Double Door Owner Plays Diabetes Benefit (June 19, 2015)

Friends Rally to Help Double Door Worker Facing $46,000 on Medical Bills (Dec. 5, 2014)

Double Door to open Third Entrance For First Time (July 10, 2013)

Double Door's iconic sign. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]