Friday, October 28, 2022

Jackie Taylor Supercharges Black Ensemble Theater

The property at 4427 N. Clark has been the home of the Japanese American Service Committee, or JASC, for over 50 years, but as of this summer, JASC became a tenant in its longtime home

JASC 4427 N. Clark (Google Maps)

Jackie Taylor and Black Ensemble Theater are the new owners, purchasing the property from JASC for $5.5 million dollars.

For those unfamiliar with JASC, the Committee and the building on Clark have been a community anchor for years, at first serving a large influx of Japanese residents coming out of the internment camps of WWII.  JASC then transitioned to a central gathering place for Chicago's Japanese community as it dispersed throughout the city.  JASC has operated a community center with amazing programming on Clark for years, as well as the (newly remodeled) Heiwa (Peace) Terrace at Lawrence and Sheridan. The history of this amazing organization is well worth a read.

With a $17 million mortgage on the former JASC property, BET appears set for further expansion and construction on the huge JASC site. Overall, BET appears to have invested around $20 million dollars on area real estate acquisitions, with five big moves in just over 10 years to control significant portions of the 4400 block of Clark Street. 

The properties BET either owns outright or has an interest in are shown in red below.

Google Maps

  1. The beautiful BET Theater at Sunnyside and Clark was built beginning in 2010 and completed in 2011, replacing a former candy factory.
  2. BET bought the property at 4453 N. Clark for $1,000,000 in 2018.   The building was demolished in 2019
  3. In 2021, using funds provided by Mackenzie Bezos, BET bought into the then under construction building at 4410 N. Clark as a partner of developer MCZ Development.
  4. Earlier in 2022, BET bought the property at 4507-09 N. Clark for $1,625,000.
  5. The new property (former JASC building and parking lot), purchased for $5,500,000.

While we have no details on how Ms. Taylor and BET plan to utilize the properties, the purchases are in line with her longstanding plan to create a full fledged community for BET, a plan that at times has included proposals for an education center, art galleries, restaurants, and housing

Having watched this strip with interest over the last 10 years, we predict that the plan, given the mortgage, will include construction of a new building or extensive renovation of the existing JASC campus, likely combining the empty lot on the corner of Clark and Sunnyside with the JASC property as part of a new building or complex directly across the street from the theater. 

For its part, JASC is going to stay on site as a tenant until mid-to-late 2023 as the board of directors searches for a new home.

We are excited to hear what's next from Ms. Taylor and BET!

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