Give Harpo back to Chicago

Letter to the editor

04/04/2012 10:00 PM

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Now that the Rosie Show is cancelled, the big question is what will happen to the Harpo facilities? Recently, West Loop realtor Scott Maesel suggested [Crain’s, March 7, 2012] that the studio, because of its size, would likely be sold to a grocery store or a health club. Since the upscale grocer Mariano’s is coming to the Gateway Project at Halsted and Madison and a Dominick’s is already at Halsted and Washington, it is unlikely that another large grocer would be interested in moving into the Harpo studios. Certainly a health club is possible, though we already have the West Loop Athletic Club a block away and from my perspective it never seems overly crowded.

The simple fact is neither is the highest and best use of the facility. Oprah should make a gift of Harpo Studios to the city that started her and nourished her. She should commemorate her legacy by gifting the facility to the city (or renting it to them for a dollar a year) and then endowing a performing arts school for talented children in this city. The money she would get from a sale would not be particularly meaningful to her, plus she should be able to structure a deal whereby she gets ample tax advantages to offset her already large tax bills.

Oprah, don’t sell the property. Do something profound with it. Please consider leaving a great legacy to Chicago. Even though no one can blame you for wanting to be in a social environment where there are other stars of your magnitude and a climate where the sun shines a bit more often, we miss you. You made the stars come to Chicago and they were glad to do it. Please show us you still care about our great City. With Harpo’s existing production facilities, its location and its history, a rare opportunity exists for you to create a performing arts school to nurture Chicago’s home grown talent. And every time, a new future star acknowledges they attended The Oprah Winfrey School for the Performing Arts, every Chicagoan would be reminded: It was your generosity, your foresight and your spirit that nourished that talent.

Peter Miller
West Loop Realtor
Centro Realty and Development

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By Paul from University Village
Posted: 04/06/2012 6:59 AM

Great idea!!

By Moe
Posted: 04/05/2012 7:36 PM

I think the Mayor and the city should be courting for her return$$$$. Oprah is the worlds most famous brand$$. How in the world can Chicago just let her go that easy? Without a fight! I think the Rahm MUST take out full page ads in both Chicago papers, L.A. Times and the New York Times asking for her to return to the city. After-all Oprah still has one foot left in Chicago and we have the best chance of anyone getting her to come back home. Chicago obviously holds place in her heart.