Ari Golan has joined an exclusive club of company owners who have had the luxury of building totally new studios according to their own visions and specs. He will stand with Video Impressions of Aurora, whose building was completed last year, and Essanay Studio & Lighting’s studio, now in construction close to where Golan’s new place will be.
Golan, owner of 10-year old Golan Productions and younger sister animation company, Atomic Imaging, has purchased 36,000-square feet of “dream property” on the west branch of the Chicago River for $500,000.
Golan’s revenues have doubled every other year for the 10 years he’s been in business, and the gross sales of Atomic Imaging have grown twice that. Both now exceed $1 million in annual sales.
Having “totally outgrown” its comparatively tiny 5,000-square-foot offices at 507 W. North Ave., the 15 person (and still growing) staff has already moved into one of the five buildings situated on the property.
When the pre-Chicago Fire buildings are demolished next spring, a new “high tech futuristic castle” will be constructed in their place. While pondering the final selection of an architect, Golan envisions a six-story high edifice facing the river and containing two, three-story high stages (80xlO0 and 30×40), editing suites and offices for the Golan staff and associated companies renting there; and space adjacent to the studio he said is already rented to a prop and set construction company and to a lighting and sound company that provides sound equipment for concerts. All would have access to an interior semi-truck loading dock.
Undaunted by the plethora of studio-office space that became available seemingly overnight, Golan is confident he can fill the rental offices with “people with whom we have had long term relationships,” who have indicated interest in leasing.
To build the castle will take between $4 and $5 million. Golan expects to raise the construction money through private investors, most of whom are already committed, he claimed.
“We’ve had our eyes open for the past four years and originally looked for a building we could rehab,” said Golan. “But in the back of my mind I always knew a broker wouldn’t find everything we wanted and that we would stumble on the perfect place when the time was right. I saw the property and fell in love with it. The timing was right.”
The neighborhood he likes “is booming and up and coming.” Nearby neighbors are Fletcher Chicago, Schumacher Camera, Lamar Bloodworth’s new building, Rich Newman’s Rolling Stock car rentals and Essanay’s $3 million complex going up on Goose Island.
With 400-feet of river frontage facing the turning basis, Golan plans to build a boat dock. He is also contemplating a helipad since he has a freshly-minted helicopter’s pilot license.
Golan will hold his popular and widely attended annual Halloween party in one of the buildings on his new riverfront property. He plans demolition soon thereafter, making the party something of a weird wake for the historic, doomed structure.
OCTOBER 2, 1995
VOL 17 NO. 36