THREATENED: Long-Stalled Congress Theater Restoration Plan Hit with Foreclosure Suit

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“The developer behind a $69 million city-subsidized plan to overhaul the shuttered Congress Theater in Logan Square is in danger of losing the landmark property, which has been hit with a $24 million foreclosure suit.

“A Los Angeles-based lender filed the foreclosure suit in early August, alleging that the owner of the theater, a venture led by Chicago developer Michael Moyer, defaulted on $14 million in loans on the property nearly four years ago.

“The suit could deliver the knockout blow to Moyer’s ambitious proposal to restore and redevelop the historic theater at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., which closed in 2013. The Emanuel administration made the property’s resurrection such a high priority that a city panel in 2018 approved $9.7 million in tax-increment financing for the project.Moyer never received the city money, nor did he raise the rest of the funds to start the $69 million development. Moyer and his attorney did not return calls.

“With the economy and real estate market in the dumps, finding financing for risky real estate projects has become a lot tougher for developers, even in Logan Square, one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods before the coronavirus. After waiting to be repaid for nearly four years, the foreclosure suit may be a sign that Moyer’s lender, a venture of AEG Worldwide, has finally decided it’s a lost cause.

“Built in 1926, the Congress Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, representing a golden era in the 1920s when ornate movie palaces opened across the country. Renovating it seemed like the right job for Moyer, who in the late 1990s redeveloped another faded theater next to City Hall into the Cadillac Palace Theatre and Hotel Allegro.

“Moyer’s plan for the Congress included restoring the theater, which would total 4,900 seats, and building out the rest of the 160,000-square-foot building with 14 apartments and a 30-room hotel. Moyer also planned a 72-unit apartment building next door in a later phase.” (Gallun, 8/31/20)

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

Will foreclosure suit doom the Congress Theater’s comeback? The Chicago developer who wanted to restore the landmark Logan Square theater took a big step in 2018 when he obtained preliminary approval for a $9.7 million city subsidy for the project. Now he’s in danger of losing the property. Alby Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 8/31/20 

Congress Theater Developer Hit With $24 Million Foreclosure Lawsuit: Report, Mina Bloom, Block Club Chicago, 9/1/20

Congress Theater Chicago Landmark Designation Report, 8/2/20

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