Casting for a revival: Congress Theater hits market

Lender AEG had filed foreclosure suit on property, whose owner planned mixed-use redevelopment

Chicago /
Feb.February 01, 2021 12:24 PM
AEG CEO Philip Anschutz (right), developer Michael Moyer (inset) and the Congress Theater. (Getty; ThomasIrvin via Wikipedia; Chicago Architecture Center)

AEG CEO Philip Anschutz (right), developer Michael Moyer (inset) and the Congress Theater. (Getty; ThomasIrvin via Wikipedia; Chicago Architecture Center)

A court-appointed receiver is casting for a buyer for the landmark Congress Theater.

The vacant Logan Square venue has hit the market, months after a long-sought redevelopment effort for the 160,000-square-foot property was canceled when lender AEG foreclosed, according to Crain’s.

Developer Michael Moyer had planned to restore the near century-old former movie and music theater with 4,900 seats and add 14 apartments and a 30-room hotel. He received approvals to build a 72-unit apartment residential project next to the theater.

But now, a court-appointed receiver has hired Frontline Real Estate Partners to market the building after entertainment giant AEG Worldwide filed a $24 million foreclosure suit in August, according to Crain’s.

In addition to being the lender, Los Angeles-based AEG had also agreed to lease the theater space at 2135 North Milwaukee Avenue. But the company alleged in August that a group led by Moyer defaulted on $14 million in loan payments dating several years back. Moyer bought the property for $16 million in 2015, financing it with a pair of loans for $12 million. Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration approved a $9.7 million in tax-increment financing for the project, which Crain’s previously reported Moyer never received. The developer also failed to raise further funds to get the $69 million redevelopment project off the ground.

In an email to Crain’s, Moyer said the project required four years just to obtain city zoning and tax credit approvals, “and millions of dollars spent on architectural, engineering, and trades.” He added that the coronavirus made the situation worse, and “I want very much for The Congress to succeed: it will.” [Crain’s] — Alexi Friedman 


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