Chicago music venue Double Door has been ordered to vacate its 20-plus year home at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the Wicker Park neighborhood per a ruling from a Cook County circuit court judge on Thursday (July 14). In his decision, Judge Orville Hambright Jr. cited the rock club management’s failure to properly notify its landlord last year of its wish to exercise its option to renew its lease.
The 550-capacity Double Door, according to its website, currently has shows booked through February, 2017. In court on Thursday co-owner Sean Mulroney said they had bands booked through next March. To that end, Hambright said he would take that into consideration and that parties should reconvene in court on August 4 to determine when exactly Mulroney and co-owner Joe Shanahan must turn over possession of the property to landlord Brian Strauss. The judge did say he still hoped both parties could come to an amicable solution regarding the date of transfer and perhaps even work out an agreement to keep the Double Door in its current location.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Mulroney expressed regret at the judge’s decision but felt positive he and Strauss might be able to work out an agreement between now and August 4; he even said he has long discussed buying Double Door’s building from Strauss, who would not comment on those talks.
“They have the right to take it back [now],” Mulroney told reporters outside the courtroom. “Under what terms is the next step,” Mulroney said he had no comment in regards to whether he would be seeking out a different location for Double Door once forced to vacate the current property.
Strauss said Thursday’s ruling marks the final call on Double Door’s fate in its current location and its time has come “to an end.” “Now we move on,” he said. He would not comment on whether he had been in negotiations with prospective tenants to take over the space.
Thursday’s decision comes in the wake of eight months of legal maneuvering that included a hard-fought trial. The drama has been playing out since November 2015 when Strauss first sought to evict Double Door, claiming its owners had failed to give 180-days written notice, per their lease terms, as to whether they were going to remain at the venue past its Oct. 31, 2015 expiration.
Under their lease Double Door owners were required to fax a letter to extend their lease, personally deliver it or send it by certified mail to Strauss. Attorneys representing the Double Door said Mulroney did send the letter while conceding he didn’t adhere to the lease’s stated method of delivery. Strauss however claims he never received the letter.
Attorneys for Double Door also cited $83,000 in renovations recently done by ownership as evidence they had full belief Strauss planned to extend their lease.
Hambright Jr. said he was skeptical of why then the lease extension was not sent in a timely fashion -- or properly -- given Double Door’s clear investment in the property.
“I figure making that investment, then why aren’t we submitting out notice more timely,” he said.
Since opening in 1994, Double Door has played host to shows from the likes of the Rolling Stones and Kanye West, and was used as a setting in films including High Fidelity and Chi-Raq. It also played a pivotal role in the emerging Chicago indie-rock scene that blossomed in the 90s.
“If we’re not around it’s going to make a big difference [to the neighborhood],” Mulroney said on Thursday, adding that he saw his venue in the same echelon of iconic rock clubs like CBGB’s in New York. “There are very few of us left. But we are not exiting anytime soon.”