January 30, 2009

Hollywood Video closes after University buys building

Hyde Park’s Hollywood Video closed last week, adding another empty storefront to a street already littered with them.

The University, which purchased the building earlier this month, will gain a range of development options for the site, located on East 53rd Street next to the Harper Court complex that it acquired in the spring.

Susan Campbell, associate vice president of civic Engagement, said the closing of Hollywood Video was unrelated to the University’s recent acquisition of the building.

“[Hollywood Video] chose to close with the previous owner before the University purchased it,” she said.

However, Hollywood Video district manager Elbert Lofton attributed the shuttered doors to the University.

“That store closed because the building was sold,” he said.

Campbell rebutted Lofton’s claim.

“The two are not linked occurrences. They came to that agreement with the previous owner, the man who owns Valois as well,” she said.

With plans for Harper Court still in debate, the University has not decided on what to do with the Hollywood Video building.

The closing of Hollywood Video provides a new opportunity for development on East 53rd Street. Campbell said that the University is just beginning that process and that the request for proposals, in which developers submit prospective plans for a site, had come in this week.

“We received 12 proposals, the most the city has ever seen [for one site],” she said.

Campbell stressed the University’s commitment to revitalizing East 53rd Street, adding that the fiscal crisis will not deter it from making plans for Harper Court.

“During a recession, it offers an opportunity to do thorough planning so that when the economy picks up we can be ready,” she said.

“By the time the shovel hits the ground, the economy will be in a much different shape,” she added.

The Hyde Park location shut down without fanfare. A sign on the door read, “Please visit our locations at 89th and Stony or 43rd and Ashland,” while another said, “Return all movies to Hollywood Video @ 8915 S. Stony 60619.”

Hollywood Video faced a number of challenges. Movie Gallery, Inc., the Alabama-based company that owns Hollywood Video, recovered from bankruptcy in May, reflecting an outdated business model as people move to the Internet for their entertainment, using services like Netflix and iTunes. Blockbuster Video, also located on East 53rd Street, recently closed as well.