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Double Door Eviction Trial Ends, But Still No Verdict

By Joe Ward | June 29, 2016 5:27pm
 The Double Door has been a Wicker Park staple since 1994.
The Double Door has been a Wicker Park staple since 1994.
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Facebook/Double Door

DALEY CENTER — A decision in the case still hasn't been made, but legendary rock club Double Door may be allowed to stay at its Milwaukee Avenue location if a judge agrees with club owners that capital improvements made to the building should keep them from being evicted.

Club owner, Sean Mulroney, is fighting to keep Door Double, 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., from forcing to close at that location after the building owner asked him to leave. The matter is now in the hands of the court after the two sides wrapped up their case Wednesday. Judge Orville Hambright Jr. didn't announce a verdict Wednesday but hoped it would be reached "in fairly short order."

Owner Brian Strauss asked the club to leave his building after Mulroney failed to provide proper notice of his wishes to extend the lease, according to lawyers for Strauss. Mulroney disagrees and the parties have taken their fight to court, where on Wednesday both sides gave their closing arguments to Judge Hambright Jr.

At issue is whether Mulroney gave Strauss proper notification of his wish to enact a three-year extension on his lease that ended in October 2015.

According to the lease terms, Mulroney was to send a notice of renewal 180 days prior to the lease's termination date. Strauss's lawyer, William Dorsey, said in court Wednesday that Strauss first received a renewal notice in January, three months after Strauss had filed the lawsuit.

"There was no notice sent, regardless of whether it met the terms of the lease," Dorsey said. "The first time it appeared was in this court room."

Mulroney's lawyer, Cary Schiff, said his client did send a release notice but that it was not sent by certified mail, as is stipulated in the lease.

Mulroney's defense has centered around a "waiver" from the specific language governing the renewal process he thinks he should be granted because of the improvements he made to the property.

Speaking after the case concluded, Mulroney said he had installed five fireproof staircases as well as made improvements to the foundation, electrical wiring and the basement that he said was previously unusable.

Strauss's lawyer said the improvements were cost-shared between the two parties and that he had covered about one-third of many of the improvements.

Schiff cited case law on that particular waiver and argued that the building owner would unfairly benefit from the $83,000 in improvements Mulroney made should he be forced to leave.

"The case law goes our way," Mulroney, who is also a lawyer, said following the case's conclusion.

Judge Hambright Jr. acknowledged that the case is not "an absolute slam dunk" either way and said the case, if it does reach the appellate courts, would be subject to the whims of the three-judge panel.

As he has done continuously throughout the case, Hambright scolded the two parties for not coming to an agreement on their own accord. Strauss and Mulroney have had a business relationship for two-plus decades.

Mulroney said he is still "optimistic" an agreement can be reached between he and Strauss.

Related coverage:

Double Door Eviction Fight Drags on As Judge Seeks Ruling (June 22)

Double Door Eviction Case Delayed Again, Will New Twist Save Club? (June 20)

Double Door Eviction Trial Ends, Judge Could Rule By Monday (June 14) 

Double Door Should Get Zoning Change, Alderman Says, But It's Not Clear Why (June 2)

Double Door Landlord Tells Club to Get Out on First Day of Trial (May 18)

Double Door Eviction Case Still In Limbo, 'Pretrial Talks' Continued (May 12)

Double Door Lawyer 'Hopeful' Club Stays As Case Heads to Trial (April 12)

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)

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