No official plans for former nightclub and music venue ...
By L'Oreal Thompson
Updated at 3:05 p.m. CST: Apparently the rumors aren’t true. An anonymous source has confirmed to NBC Chicago that Jay Z and Beyoncé have not purchased the Regal Theatre in Chicago. Find out more here.
Music’s most famous power couple Jay Z and Beyoncé may have expanded their empire once again. According to the rumor mill, the rapper and pop star recently purchased the Regal Theatre in Chicago’s South Side for $250,000.
The dilapidated theater has been closed for more than a year, according to Gumbumper. Even though the 2,500-seat venue was restored using city funds, it still requires some work.
The Regal Theatre, which has been referred to as Chicago’s version of New York’s famous Apollo Theater, opened in the 1920s and featured notable Black entertainers, such as Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and more.
The original building, which was located at 47th Street and King Drive, fell on hard times and was demolished in the 1970s, according to Chicago native and architectural contributor to the city’s NPR station Lee Bey.
A decade later, Edward and Bettianne Gardner bought the Avalon Theater, restored and reopened it as the new Regal Theatre, which is located on 79th Street.
“[The theater] has Moorish architectural details and took its design cues from the Middle East,” Bey explains. “It was built before airplane travel was a big deal, so the idea of a foreign place being brought so close to you was part of its appeal.”
Bey thinks the purchase of the theater, if true, would be a major victory for the South Side neighborhood.
“I grew up in the neighborhood,” he says. “To have a theater like this saved, preserved and have it active again would be wonderful for any neighborhood in Chicago, but for this neighborhood in particular it’s a win because it has its struggles.”
Bey believes the revitalization of the theater could spark development in the area and “it also saves a city landmark.”
There are no official plans for the building yet, which was most recently used in August 2008 to celebrate Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
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