Chicago businessman Jerald “J.” Gary is getting closer to opening the refurbished New Regal Theater under the Avalon Regal Theater name to reflect the history of the building.

Gary bought the theater three years ago for $100,000 in a foreclosure deal and has poured $1 million into the historic building. The original “Avalon” sign will be installed alongside the current “Regal” marquee.

In its heyday, big names played the South Shore theater. Jackie Wilson was among those who performed, and Gary is working him back to the New Regal’s stage.

That feat would be done through a collaboration with HologramUSA, a Beverly Hills firm that works with the estates of notable performers to reproduce their work. “It’s novel and futuristic. It’s so realistic it blows your mind,” says Gary, who runs a private equity fund that invests in businesses and real estate on Chicago’s South Side.

Gary has a special affection for the theater, having grown up just around the corner from the building.

He’s been the sole investor in funding the rehab and hopes to raise $250,000 to secure a certificate of occupancy that allows him to open its doors.

Gary hopes bringing life to the theater will reinvigorate the neighborhood. It’s been a tough sell to investors.

“There isn’t support because of the neighborhood,” says Gary. “But that’s the main reason people should be supporting it.”

True Value’s West Side story

True Value CEO John Hartmann

John Hartmann | Provided photo

True Value is increasing its footprint, adding and remodeling independent stores across the country. In Chicago, though, its focus is on the Boys and Girls Club on the city’s West Side.

True Value employees have committed 3,000 hours since 2015 in voluntarism and mentorship to the nonprofit. That follows a five-year, $1.5 million commitment to Boys and Girls Club.

“We’re concerned about the level of crime in our city but will continue to support law enforcement working tirelessly to keep us safe,” CEO John Hartmann told me recently. “It’s about verbal support, financial support and donating time to kids in the city.”

Hartmann comes to the issue from an interesting perspective. Earlier in his career — he’s been at True Value for about four years — he chased bad guys while an FBI agent in the violent crimes task force in Pennsylvania.

That career helped make him a roll-up-your sleeves kind of executive who meets one-on-one with independent hardware store retailers around the country.

He even took on a disguise for “Undercover Boss” to get a better sense of how the company works.

“These aren’t big-box stores. That’s what sets us apart,” Hartmann says. “These retailers are independent business owners, employers, community leaders.”

Over the past year, True Value has remodeled 101 stores and built 68 stores. It expects to add 70 this year, though none in Chicago.

Legal titans battle over Marbles

The Elgin Marbles, on display at the British Museum for nearly 200 years, were hacksawed off the Parthenon in Athens in 1806.

The Elgin Marbles, on display at the British Museum for nearly 200 years, were hacksawed off the Parthenon in Athens in 1806. | File photo

A legal case of “historic” proportions will see high-profile attorneys Dan Webb, Bob Clifford and Sam Adam Jr. faceoff against former top prosecutors Patrick Collins and Patrick Fitzgerald and attorney Tinos Diamantatos.

It’s part of the mock trial of the case known as the Parthenon Marbles. The event benefits the National Hellenic Museum in Greektown and will be held at the Rubloff Auditorium in the Art Institute.

The trial will decide whether the classical Greek marble sculptures should be returned to Greece or remain in the British Museum. The Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, originally formed much of the Parthenon’s exterior. In the 1800s, they were allowed to be shipped to England for exhibition. There’s been a question of ownership ever since.

Presiding over the proceedings will be Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras and Cook County Circuit Judge Anna Demacopoulos.

Webb, Clifford and Adam will represent Greece and Collins, Fitzgerald and Diamantatos will argue for the British Museum.

Tickets for the March 16 trial are available.

Serious talk about civility

Shari Runner, President and CEO of the Urban League,

Shari Runner | Sun-Times file photo

In a thoughtful discussion earlier this week about the serious subject of civility, Shari Runner drew a laugh.

The president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League recalled earlier in her career working on trading floors. They’re not known for civility, she deadpanned.

The discussion about respect in the workplace was organized by The Chicago Network, a nonpartisan organization of women business and civic leaders.

Runner said those early work experiences “toughened” her up.

The point, though, was that incivility in the workplace isn’t new. It’s just “more intense and visible” thanks to social media, said Jill Smart, president of the National Academy of Human Resources. K. Sujata, CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women, also participated.

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