Friday, June 10, 2005

Double Door settlement reached!

From today's Sun-Times... Pierced and tattooed fans of the Double Door rock club cheered and applauded Thursday as owner Sean Mulroney told a packed courtroom he and the landlord reached an agreement to allow the club to stay another nine years. "I'm very happy the city is not going to become the strip mall they keep trying to turn it into," Herb Rosen, bass player and vocalist for the band Beer Nuts said in the hallway outside Judge Richard Billik's courtroom. Rosen was one of about 40 musicians and music lovers who came to show support for the club that some credit with helping drive Wicker Park's renaissance since it opened 11 years ago. "If the Double Door closed, the neighborhood would really change; of course it already has been changing," said Scott Spidale, who plays guitar for the band Premium. Judge prompts two sides to talk The Double Door became a victim of its own success at the hot intersection of Damen, North and Milwaukee, with landlords being offered rents of closer to $38 a square foot by chains like Banana Republic, compared with the $9 a foot Double Door was paying. The club has argued with landlord Brian Strauss for the last year and was set to begin trial at 2 p.m. Thursday. But Billik called both sides into his chambers and reminded them they would be happier with a compromise they reached themselves than one he imposed on them. They began two hours of negotiations while fans who did not fit the usual suit-and-tie attire of the Daley Center paced in and out of the courtroom. Did the fans' presence help the club's owners? "When they saw the support, I think it made a big difference," Mulroney said. "Who wants to be the bad guy, say, 'I closed the club?' " co-owner Joseph Shanahan said. 'This was about money' But Strauss' attorney Richard Stavins politely disagreed. "This was not about a culture war, it was about money and we resolved it." Mulroney and Shanahan heaped praise on Strauss, saying despite their occasional arguments, they like him. Shanahan even called him a "hero" for agreeing to the deal that keeps the club open. Mulroney asked the fans to applaud for Strauss as he hurried from the courtroom to pick up his sons from school. Neither side would reveal the exact dollar figure they settled on. "It's more than I wanted to pay and less than he wanted to take -- we're right smack-dab in the middle," Mulroney said. In the early 1900s, the Double Door was a speakeasy with a brothel upstairs, Mulroney said. And nothing much had changed until he and his partners came in, booking such big names as the Rolling Stones and Smashing Pumpkins, he said.


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