Film & Tape Works closes after 30 years

After 30 years in business, Film & Tape Works has become the latest production company to fall victim to the economy and changing technology and closed its doors March 31.

F&TW owns the building at 237 E. Ontario, which is in the process of being readied for potential leasing of the 30,000-sq. ft. facility and an arsenal of studio equipment.

The building and the company is owned equally by Jim Mahoney, chief operating officer, his former wife Kari Blunda, company president and their son, Clinton, who is handling the leasing.

“It’s a shame that Chicago is losing one more incredible resource,” commented Adam Marton, who had been F&TW’s executive producer for 12 years, until 2007. “I’m sorry to see it go. It is a fabulous facility that never reached its full potential.”

Blunda said they would like to sell the building, but not until the real estate market recovers in value, which could be several years down the road. In the meantime, the building will be ready by June 1 for lease at $50,000 a month, which amounts to a reasonable $20 a square foot.

Ideally, Blunda said, the already built-out space could be rented to a production company, with the estimated $5 million worth of equipment, or failing that, renting to a commercial business, such as a restaurant.

“A production company lessee would enjoy a substantial advantage since the space is already built-out and in movie-in condition,” said Blunda, adding, “but we are not going looking to break up the space to rent small offices.”

The full-range of production equipment that would be included in the lease — or sold at the right price — includes a digital control room, five video editing suites, audio suites, studio and field cameras, a da Vinci 2K Plus, and a Spirit Data Cine.

The Mahoney family purchased the modern, two-story building, the former home of the Museum of Contemporary Art, in 1996 for $3.9 million and over the years, said Blunda, “invested more than $15 million in equipment, upgrades and renovations.”

During its flush years, the company enjoyed annual sales of $5-6 million and employed 30. Because it was a full-service operation, offering pre-to-finished production Film & Tape Works serviced a diverse clientele Jim Mahoney, a cameraman, often shot for national TV shows when they filmed in Chicago.

Said a saddened and disappointed Mahoney, “With this economy, it was hard to pay the bills and property taxes,” although sources said many of their problems began with the Mahoneys’ divorce in 2001 and Jim Mahoney’s later refusal to accept a $12 million offer to sell the property.

Film & Tape Works is the first company to close since the shocking shuttering of 28-year old Avenue Edit, the city’s top grossing post house at the time, in November, 2008.

Mahoney asked that anyone with elements in storage at 237 E. Ontario should contact him at 312/280-2201 to arrange for pick-up.

To discuss building rental, contact Clinton Mahoney at 708/243-6278.

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