It seemed for a moment that when power couple Beyonce and Jay Z were in Chicago last month, they apparently saw something they liked in the New Regal Theater, one of the city's most stunning classic, vacant movie palaces. But alas.
According to a post on GumBumper.com, Bey and S.C. purchased the New Regal Theater, which opened as the Avalon Theater in 1927 and was closed by its previous owners in 2003, for $250,000.
But that report was first called into question Wednesday afternoon after NBC Chicago spoke with "a source familiar with" the theater's pending sale who said the rumored celebrity purchase was inaccurate. DNAinfo Chicago later put the kibosh on the rumor.
The Chicago Sun-Times, too, quoted a source -- "a close business associate of Jay-Z" -- who said he knew nothing of the deal described by GumBumper.com.
The theater, as Jet Magazine notes, was previously considered to be Chicago's own version of the Apollo Theater and played host over the years to a bevy of legendary African-American artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Curtis Mayfield, Etta James, James Brown, Lena Horne and Duke Ellington at both its 1641 E. 79th St. location and its previous 47th Street site, which was demolished in 1973.
WBEZ's Lee Bey, who has written about the New Regal and its beautiful Moorish-style John Eberson design, previously told Jet the report, if true, would mark a major coup for the area -- even without celebrity owners.
"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 told Jet.
The 2,400-seat, 22,000-square-foot venue was purchased in 2008 by a group including Ron and Regina Evans, whose hope was to reinvigorate the site as a cultural venue. The theater was used for a party celebrating Barack Obama's Democratic National Convention acceptance speech that August but has seen little use in recent years beyond that.
The New Regal Theater was designated as a landmark by the city in 1992 and was listed among Landmarks Illinois' ten most endangered places statewide in 2011.