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Skokie Theatre slated to close at end of year

The Skokie Theatre is closing Dec. 31. | Mike Isaacs~Sun-Times  Media

The Skokie Theatre is closing Dec. 31. | Mike Isaacs~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 16, 2011 8:16AM

After a year reprieve, the Skokie Theatre will shut its doors at the end of the year.

The entertainment venue in downtown Skokie almost went dark last year after it went into receivership and was bought by First American Bank.

But the bank committed to keeping it open in 2011 in hopes that it might be sold during the year and saved.

The Skokie Chamber of Commerce helped spearhead fundraising efforts for the theater, and the theater tried to book new kinds of events to bring in more revenue, including a civil union ceremony.

But it wasn’t enough, said Brian Hoffman of Red Seal Development in Northbrook, which represents the receiver.

“It’s disappointing, but the theater was unable to cover its costs of operating,” he said. “It was really that simple.”

One of Skokie’s oldest buildings and the first in the village to have air conditioning, the theater first opened in 1912 and was a studio lot where some of the earliest silent movies were made.

It was bought in 2004 by a non-profit organization that changed its name to the Skokie Theatre Music Foundation.

The foundation poured $1.5 million into the deteriorating facility, which had been used to show second-run movies for many years. By the time the renovation was complete, the theater had been transformed into an state-of-the-art venue that seated 140.

But the economic downturn took its toll on the facility, and the foundation was in the process of renegotiating its loan with the Town Community Bank of Antioch when federal authorities closed the bank. The bank was reopened by First American Bank, but a renegotiated loan was out of the question, leading the theater into receivership.

First American Bank bought the theater last year during a foreclosure sale by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. As part of the deal, the bank’s receiver stayed on and oversaw operations.

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