As reported last month, it's going to be a long, ugly fight between all of the interested parties before someone finally emerges with clear title to the venerable Uptown Theater -- and even longer before the extensive repairs can be made to restore the once regal movie palace for use as a grand concert venue.
But there have been two developments in recent weeks, and neither was particularly good news for local promoters Jam Productions.
Jam is part of a company that holds the second mortgage on the property. The first mortgage is held by a group called Broadway for Uptown that is reportedly seeking to work with the giant national concert promoter Live Nation. And Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th) has made no secret of the fact that she favors the latter.
Last week, the City Housing Court maintained that it has the right to impose a long list of requirements on bidders in a foreclosure sale on the property -- requirements that Jam contends were tailored to Live Nation. The Illinois Supreme Court also recently ruled against the Jam group's request that it force a foreclosure sale on the property.
You're forgiven if the preceding paragraph makes little sense: The legal morass at the heart of this case is one of the worst this reporter has ever tried to untangle. The bottom line?
On the one side, Jam and its partners say they stand ready to pay off the first mortgage and, once it's clear they're the owners, begin bringing the theater back to life.
On the other side, for all the talk of Broadway for Uptown doing the same in partnership with Live Nation, it's not at all clear that they own the theater and have any right to do that.
What happens next? Several possibilities:
A.) A foreclosure sale is finally scheduled and Jam and its partners obtain clear title.
B.) The city somehow steps in and takes some sort of action that awards the theater to the Live Nation side.
C.) The whole tortured mess continues to stay tied up in court as the historic theater crumbles and Chicagoans lose out.
At least, that's my read on things. Ald. Smith's office did not respond to a request to comment. Live Nation would not comment. And Broadway for Uptown has not responded to any of my attempts to talk to the group.