THE LOOP — A Cook County judge escalated the Double Door eviction case to a trial and asked both parties to try and resolve their differences before May 18, when a bench trial has been scheduled following six months of hearings.
"Bottom line, I'm going to set this bad boy for a trial. You all tried to have an opportunity to work this out [in hearings] but that's not been able to happen," Judge Orville Hambright Jr. told lawyers for Double Door and the building's landlord on Tuesday.
But before May 18, Hambright has also arranged a "pretrial" lunch meeting in his chambers, set for April 27, as an opportunity for the two sides to possibly reach an agreement and prevent going to a trial.
"You need to pick up the pace on this. The court can serve as a bridge. I need your help. I don't want a Grand Canyon type of bridge, I want something short and sweet," Hambright said.
After the court appearance on Tuesday, Cary Schiff, a lawyer for Double Door's owner, Sean Mulroney, was asked if he is confidant that Double Door will work things out with its landlord during the judge's pretrial meeting on April 27.
"I'm not confident; I'm hopeful," Schiff said.
Brian Strauss, owner of Double Door, declined to comment.
Most recently, Strauss asked Double Door to pay an additional $11,000 more in use and occupancy fees while the case is being debated in court, the Tribune reported on March 31.
The use and occupancy increase request was not brought up on Tuesday because the matter of whether or not Mulroney gave sufficient notice of his desire to renew the lease was the main question not resolved.
At previous hearings, lawyers from Schiff's team argued the building is "a significant commercial property." And on Tuesday, Schiff tried to plead the value of a long term relationship to Hambright.
"These parties have been together roughly 20 years," Schiff said.
Hambright replied that he has been with his wife for 50 years and while "the train is still on the track," "that does not mean there cannot be a divorce."
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.
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.
On Tuesday, Schiff read aloud a sworn written statement from Mulroney, wherein Mulroney stated he mailed the letter dated April 24 and "left a copy" at the club, a statement that Dorsey said was proof that Mulroney did not comply with his lease, which states that notice for a lease renewal must be sent through certified mail.
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."
Lawyer in Double Door Eviction Case: 'Time for Them to Go' (Dec. 10, 2015)
Double Door to open Third Entrance For First Time (July 10, 2013)
Double Door's iconic sign. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
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