New Regal Theater has a buyer

The New Regal Theater on 79th Street just east of the Chicago Skyway in 2011.

The New Regal Theater on 79th Street just east of the Chicago Skyway in 2011. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune / August 31, 2011)

The New Regal Theater, a historic landmark on Chicago’s South Side and in the past one of the city’s most important centers for African-American entertainment, has a pending contract,   spokesman Greg Hernandez for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation confirmed Wednesday.

The FDIC had the 2500-seat theater, located at 1641-59 E. 79th St., on the block after acquiring it following the failure of the bank that held a mortgage on the long-troubled property. Hernandez would not disclose the buyers, saying that the deal still was in its “due diligence” stage, but the asking price was $99,000.

Following a variety of failed attempts at operations and renovation by a procession of owners and ownership groups, The New Regal, built in 1927 in Moorish style as the Avalon Theater, has been shuttered for several years. The exterior of the building is in poor condition, despite a luminous history as the host of a formidable roster of black entertainers from Louis Armstrong and Count Basie to The Supremes and The Jackson 5. Although the interior is in better shape, extensive renovation will be required. Claude Jones, a real-estate developer with ownership interests in the area, said Wednesday that he hoped to develop a new restaurant across from the theater as part of a renewed entertainment and shopping district in the area around the grand old venue.

CHICAGO

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