Two prominent North Side LGBT businesses have just under a month to find a new owner for the building they've long called home, or their businesses are in danger of closing.
The building at Clark Street and Devon Avenue partially occupied by Jackhammer, 6406 N. Clark St., and Leather 64TEN, 6410 N. Clark St., went into foreclosure earlier in 2018. The current owner, a company that buys and sells foreclosed properties, which is not revealing their identity, has given the current occupants about a month to line up a new owner who will honor the current leases.
Asking price for the property was set at about $2.2 million, according to Laura Rahilly of Coldwell Banker, who was engaged by the current owner's management company to find a buyer. She added that the principals involved in the matter recognize the importances of the building to the LGBT community.
The company "contacted me because they understood the legacy of Jackhammer. They are willing to work with the new buyer in order to make sure that those businesses stay around," said Rahilly, who added that there had been several prospective buyers. "But now it's just a matter of finding the right owner who will make sure that the businesses can still stand."
The situation is particularly grave for Jackhammer, which has a 4 a.m. liquor license that is specific to its location, meaning that the bar cannot relocate elsewhere.
"In the city of Chicago, liquor licenses are tied to the address, and they are non-transferable," said owner Jimmy Keup, who has had Jackhammer since it replaced the previous bar, Numbers, in 1999. "Once we close the doors, the place is just gone."
Leather 64TEN owners Eric Kugelman and Michael Syrjanen also reside in the building besides having their business there. Their business has been there for 13 years.
"For Jimmy, Michael and I, it's about the people involved," Kugelman said. "Not just the people who work for us, it's going to affect many. I've been there at closing with Jimmy, seeing all of his people as well. They're not scared, but concerned, and rightfully so. Now that the news is out there, the phone calls of support that we're getting have been wonderful."
Syrjanen added that nearby businesses would be affected as well, including a neighboring Mexican restaurant and Touche, 6412 N. Clark St.
"It will affect Touche in a big way," he said.
"It's kind of become a nice little community, and my passion has become all about that," Kugelman said.
Keup noted that he's had very little turnover amongst his staff and has had a steady and regular flow of customers.
"I've literally seen some of my customers grow up and literally say that I'm like a gay dad to them," he said. "That's been very touching, feeling that sentiment from these guys. So many people have reached out to me, whom I haven't heard from in years. It's all about community."
The principals involved in the search have established a website that lays out details about the situation at savethejackhammercomplex.com