Oprah’s Harpo Productions has purchased the former Peter Elliott studios cater-corner from Harpo at 1115 W. Washington St., the studio confirmed.
The 17,000-sq. ft. production complex will have a number of uses, one of which is reportedly a new studio for Oprah’s daytime show on ABC. The building is being renovated and should be ready for occupancy in August, sources said.
Neither the sale price nor the cost of renovation was disclosed.
Harpo’s expansion should help quell rumors of the Oprah show moving to Los Angeles. Oprah has consistently maintained that her show will always originate in Chicago, although she may choose to live fulltime on her new $50 million estate in Montecito, California and commute to Chicago.
The new building will become part of “a Harpo Campus” that ostensibly will be comprised of property other than the anchor studio at 1058 W. Washington and the block of connected buildings and parking space on the site, according to sources.
The Elliott building had been vacant since last January, when the $25 million Stand Up Comedy Television initiative, a second 24-hour comedy network from Chicago, failed to connect with a cable network distributor and closed shop after 11 months.
Elliott started his business in the center of three buildings more than 20 years ago. He bought the two adjacent buildings over the years and fused them into one complex. His studio included two stages, a commercial kitchen, two conference rooms, two client areas, a full workshop and extensive prop storage.
In 2003, Elliott sold his property for a reported $4.8 million to a trio of local investors who bankrolled High Road Productions, a successor studio to Elliott, that closed 18 months later. The property owners rented the complex to the Comedy Television investors on a lease/buy arrangement.
In 1988, Harpo Productions purchased the property at 1058 W. Washington for a total $10 million investment. The property was purchased for $3 million from producer Fred Niles, who had owned it for 25 years. Another $7 million was spent on renovating the 100,000-sq. ft. facility over the next two-and-a-half years. Since then, Harpo purchased the remainder of the block from Carpenter to Aberdeen, and from Randolph to Washington.
The Oprah show is currently taped in the studio at 110 N. Carpenter.