That indeed may be a very real possiblity. The Chicago Sun-Times today had an interesting article about the current status of Oprah’s Harpo Studios which at best could be called iffy
Located on the Near West Side of Chicago on Washington Street, the facility was orginally once an armory and later a makeshift production studio, before Winfrey bought it in the late 80’s and converted it into a state-of-the-art television and mutimedia production facility.
During the run of Oprah’s talk show, the studio acted as a catayist and totally reinvigorated the entire surrounding neighborhood, turning what was once a run down, largely forgetten area of meat packing plants (still quite a few of them there) into Yuppietown U.S.A complete with expensive condos (that is before the real estate bubble burst) restaurants and high end fashion stores and boutiques
However, after Winfrey ended her talk show, put her $5.6 million Gold Coast condo (those in Chicago know what I’m taking about) on the market (which you can currently rent for a mere $15,000 a month) and moved lock, stock and barrell to California (where she already for several years has had a huge estate up in Montecito) to run OWN, there hasn’t been a lot of activiity at the studios.
True, Rosie O’Donnell’s current OWN talk show was being taped there, but no longer. The show has stopped production at Harpo, O’Donnell has already sold her Chicago area home and the show is being relocated to New York. Low ratings and, according to sources, the difficulties of getting celebrity guests to come to Chicago to tape the show forced the OWN to move the show. Of course Oprah certainly had no trouble bringing guests to Chicago to do her show, but then again it was Oprah. Who would go out of their way for Rosie?
So now the Harpo Studios is dark and inactive and what now will become of it? Perhaps put it up for sale. According to one realtor quoted in the Sun-Times piece: “the property would draw interest from a number of buyers from those who would want the production facilities for their own to those who would tear it torn for a high-rise”
Another realtor was quated saying that “with property investment picking up, the studios would find a new use quickly”
And of course, something that the article doesn’t mention, is that one must consider the enormous financial overhead that Winfrey is carrying on the studio. Even worse for one that’s not being used.
Still it would be a real shame if she decides to sell the property to someone else who would then tear it down. That’s not the way to treat a legacy.