Long an important venue on Chicago’s theatrical scene, the Royal George closed its doors at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and has never reopened. The property, owned by New York-based Liberty Theaters, went on the market several months ago. D&K bought it in June, according to Real Capital.
Founded in 1893, D&K is one of Chicago’s oldest real estate companies and today a leading apartment owner and developer. The company’s properties include Lake Meadows on the south side, Burnham Pointe and Aspire Residences in the South Loop and Wrigleyville Lofts, a project near Wrigley Field which is slated to open this fall. D&K is also part of the company developing a $ 4 billion mixed-use project at the Michael Reese Hospital site near McCormick Place.
Apartments would be an obvious choice for the Royal George site, which sits at the southern end of a predominantly residential area and a short walk from the bustling North and Clybourn shopping district. Across from the Steppenwolf Theater, the 26,100 square foot plot sits on a block that has already attracted interest from residential developers.
A Chicago-based company led by JDL Development recently received city approval for a 7-story, 79-unit residential project at 1623 N. Halsted St., just south of the Royal George property. A few years ago, Chicago-based CA Ventures and a partner proposed an 8-story, 92-unit apartment building just around the corner in a parking lot next to Yondorf Hall at 758 W. North. Ave.
D&K timing is also good. Although the city’s multi-family homeowners struggled with declining occupancy rates and unpaid rents during the early days of the pandemic, the market has rebounded in recent months and development is picking up speed.
D&K would likely need to apply for a zoning fee from the city to develop a residential project on the site, a process that could include community meetings and require the approval of the district alderman, Brian Hopkins. Ald. Hopkins (2nd) said he had not received any information on D&K plans for the property.