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Added Jul 20 2012

For those of you who have been following this story, the building located at 2734 N. Milwaukee in Logan Square will have its historic and unique Art Deco façade removed in the coming weeks to be replaced with standard modern brick.

Logan Square Preservation (of which I am a member) only became aware of the plan to remove the façade of the building, which until last year was covered with corrugated steel and housed a Pearl Vision, after a public meeting to discuss a zoning variance for an existing parking lot in the rear in March.

LSP’s leadership feels like the façade could have been saved but that last-ditch nature of attempts to obtain city funding and preserve it were stymied by leases signed by the building’s owners and the timing with which everything unfolded. After it's completed the building will house a brewpub along Milwaukee and a dialysis center in the back.

The loss of the building (I call it a loss, since the historic components are mostly to be removed) is a real tragedy in light of its connection to the Hairpin Lofts and Art Center project one block to the north that has been beautifully restored. This loss is especially sad in a neighborhood that prizes its historic resources as much as ours and given the example of the Hairpin building and the incredible restoration of the Logan Theater, recently completed just down the street.

It was originally built by Sol Goldberg, owner of the Hump Hairpin Manufacturing Company and built in 1931, the beginning of the Great Depression. Goldberg was described in a Chicago Tribune article of July 26, 1931 as a “consistent builder of business blocks throughout the present depression.”

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  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    Yosef, Thats exactly what I'm saying(NO MONEY) & what the owners have been telling The guys from preservation when they came last year. Every one comes over to help by saying " ask for a tiff" , "get a sbif" , or send contractors to give estimates. But still the estimates are high and no monies in tiffs & now after all this time preservation wondering why? The only guy that really cared was Adam (THANK YOU) he took the time with the owners and helped out. Unfortunately no funds.

    Yosef didn't cost much? I guess that depends what you consider alot.. Also when you own a property in Chicago, or anywhere else you have to pay taxes, repairs , water, insurance, electricity, gas, even when its not fully rented or empty. Please don't think the owner is laughing all the way to the bank. Its hard to cover costs when breaking even.

  • Thank you for your posts, Victor. It sounds like the owner took preservation into account but at the end of the day, nobody is lining up to offer realistic solutions for preserving the facade.

    It's easy to complain about something when it's not costing you any money.

  • With all due respect, the preservation organization only learned that the plan was to tear off the facade in March, after a meeting about a zoning variance for the rear parking lot. It came up by chance.

    Despite that, several of our members, including Adam that Victor mentions, were working to provide alternatives. Working together, I might mention, Victor. We just felt it was best to let one person be the point person on it instead of hearing from 15 different people from our organization.

    And last week, in fact, one of our members had found a mason to substantially match the cost of replacing the facade replacement but we were rebuffed. I'm not clear why the owners weren't interested at that time.

  • Andrew, why be vague about what you know? Why did the owner rebuff the attempt to "substantially match the cost"? What does "substantially match" mean in dollars? Where do you propose the owner get the funds to pay for whatever isn't "substantially matched"?

  • Matthew, I'm not trying to be coy. We had a Logan Square Preservation meeting last week - at that meeting one our members who is a point person on it reported that he had presented an offer from a first-class mason who was willing to match the cost of the brick facade (I say substantially because we don't know exactly what that would cost, we've only heard general numbers) and was willing to finish it within the required time frame. Our member, who is also in construction was willing to volunteer as the general contractor for the project because he loves the building and cares about the neighborhood.

    They turned us down without giving a specific reason.

    I made sure to say in my post on this topic that the owners were well-intentioned and worked with us - they were and they did. The time frame here, three months from when we first learned of the plan until it needs to be completed (I'm not sure that exact date) was so tight it was extremely difficult to muster resources.

    Here's when we first learned of the plan:
    http://chicago.everyblock.com/announcements/mar06-meeting-tomorrow-another-milwaukee-ave-parking-lot-4793758/

    The mason was also willing to put together all the necessary paperwork for the restored building to be added to the landmark district. That would have made money available through state and federal programs that rebate taxes and could end up making the restoration, in the end, more cost-effective than just replacing the facade.

    The problem with all of these options we pursued was that they take time. The city's various programs, TIF, SPIF, etc. all have a variety of paperwork and are slow-moving. Besides, money from the TIF, as Victor notes, has been committed to many projects and MAY be exhausted, though the records with TIFs are certainly not what I would consider transparent, making it difficult to determine their status.

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    Your Right , Preservation came in March. Still preservation was made ware of timeline. But in 6 months the owners still havent been able to get funds or a reasonable price.(not Preservations fault)
    And Yes Finally at the last minute The member told the owners he found a mason who could match the price, but where was the mason & what was his price? he never brought the mason or an estimate you have an estimate (but dont bring it) knowing thier in a crunch. Rebuffed ? owners STILL havent recieved the price matched estimate you said you had, your rebuffing yourself with knowing there are timelines. Youve known the situation since march.

  • Victor - the mason did in fact meet with them.

    But that is he said/she said. The reason we had this conversation was to see if the community in general thinks there is or should be solutions or other options with this building in its interest and the interest of putting preservation of our unique assets in this community at the front of future discussions too.

    I still wish/feel that the facade of this building could be preserved some how. If the facade restoration matched the cost of the tear-off reconstruction, could you support it?

  • Andrew, was the mason's work contingent on petitioning for landmark status? You can't blame an owner for not wanting to get involved with that.

  • No - landmark status would have been a carrot. If the building was accepted the owner could use the cost of renovation toward a program that freezes property taxes for about eight years after the work is completed.

  • How could the mason commit to doing the work without know what it would cost?

  • The mason came out, inspected the building, then told us and the owners he'd match the cost on the brick and generate the official paperwork if they were interested.

    As to the cost, we've been told a variety of different figures for both proposals - I haven't posted them because I don't know for certain and I don't want to put out information that's false.

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    Andrew the Mason did not come last week! The one that came was back in march. he was told there was a timeline, and said he could come back in 2 months. As for being turned down, would you sign a contract without a proposal? or an estimate or a portfolio of previos jobs at the last minute?

    "The mason was also willing to put together all the necessary paperwork for the restored building to be added to the landmark district"

    Key word RESTORED. So in order to receive funding the building has to be restored before seeing funds. I don't have to much of a school eduacation but from what I understand Masons or G.C.s don't take IOU's

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    The proposal from the guys you first sent (the guys that did hairpin) was around $900,000.00 just for facade work The other guy you sent said he could come back in 2 months, I don't know how you got any estimates besides the hairpin guys cause they were the only ones who came inside or got on the roof and checked the MO's

  • Victor - first, I'm not the organization's point person on this - I can only repeat what I've been told. That was that the new mason met with the owners a week ago Friday.

    Re: the cash in the future - it's not a pipe dream, it's a federal program. It isn't a check, it's basically a property tax rebate, money the owners wouldn't have to pay. Numerous buildings in the neighborhood, including Hairpin, have taken advantage of the program - but it's eligible to restored landmarks only.

    Re: the $900K number, we thought that was too high by more than half, that's why we contacted this second mason - he's the one who said he'd match the price, not because it's not expensive work, but because he noted that the building was a unique piece of architecture that should be saved if possible.

    As to why he didn't give them any paperwork, would you generate paperwork if you were told an owner wasn't interested?

    But, as I'd noted before, the information on this that I'm conveying is second-hand. I'm simply trying to advocate for a better solution for this building and the others moving forward.

    On the Milwaukee/Spaulding building, for example, if there are problems with the limestone and much of it, say 50 percent, has to be replaced, would neighbors rather see the 50 percent that is OK re-installed, say on the Milwaukee Ave. facade? Or left in place on the Spaulding elevation where it's been for years? That's an approach I'd favor of its wholesale replacement.

    Could you support any of these solutions?

  • Pushing landmark status onto the owner of the property is not an acceptable solution imo

  • Matthew,

    We weren't proposing forcing landmark designation on the building or its owner, it was just an example of programs available for building owners that want to restore.

  • It seems like another way of saying that you have no idea how to finance a restoration without asking the owner to cede complete control of his property....just like telling him to use a mason he didn't choose or a contractor that he didn't pick.

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    Whoever told you a new mason met with the owners on friday is Full of it! the last person that came was The guys who did hairpin and that was march / april I believe. No one was said they weren't interested, they said they coulnd sign a contract without an estimate or a proposal with the scope of work to be accomplished .

    The owners have been trying to get loans and pricing for over a year .They were able to get some loans unfortunately the banks aren't giving them out that easily or as much as one would like. How much have you come up with ? Tax breaks in the future. Go to the cook county assessors and check how much the taxes on that property are then tell me if you think that the tax breaks will ease the amount needed for the facade,

    Do I agree with the solutions? YES!!! I want to see the building 100% original Why don't you understand that? But MONEY, MONEY, the Owners cant get more loans they have them coming out thier ears!!!!

    You sound like the spoild kid who got a Prius for his 16th Birthday and cried cause he wanted daddy to buy him the new vette.

  • Matthew: historic tax credits are the carrot of restoration. Any preservation organization goes after those kinds of finances in concert with whatever public money is available for restoration.

    Victor, wow. As I've said multiple times in this thread, I'm just passing along information that I've been given. I've refrained from making any statements about your personal character and I'd ask that we stick to the conversation about the building, and leave personal attacks out of it.

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    I will leave them out but like you said people get a little emotional here

  • Susan S. resident

    Victor and all, certainly the owners are free to do what they want with the building within what the law allows, but they're now asking to change the zoning (law) to do what they want. Here's where the community and Andrew's conversation comes into play. Why shouldn't the community get something if the owners are to get something from the city?

  • Andrew - those landmark tax credits also bring severe restrictions on what an owner can do with his property

  • Everyone - a quick update.

    I met briefly with the owners today and I do want to make it clear as I stated originally in this post that they were very well-intentioned and worked hard to try and save the facade.

    The primary culprit in this situation was just the extremely contracted time frame to find funding.

    If you're in the neighborhood, swing by and check it out before it's gone.

  • I'm really saddened by this. I love that building. Had really hoped they would get to restore it. Do we know what brewpub is going in there?

  • DAMN what a shame that the owners of the building in Logan Square are actually getting away with destroying a beautiful Art Deco building.

    While they smile and nod and pretend to be sad they simultaneously are desecrating a BEAUTIFUL limestone building. Repairing holes in the limestone (left from its previous metal facade) is MORE expensive then cladding the ENTIRE building with horrific and generic red brick?

    I scream bullsh#t. Oppose their zoning variance! Dont take their word for it- make them reveal their bids and/or get new ones. Chicago is full of qualified masonry contractors that could repair that limestone in a fraction of the time it will take to skin the entire building with brick. This is SO wrong!!

  • Yosef A Logan Square neighbor since 1990

    This shows that just the carrot is not sufficient for preservation. It is inefficient, too much paperwork, not enough money or help, etc. So grants and funds are no more than a further enticement for an owner who is already committed to preserve the architecture of his building. They are not sufficient to convince an owner who sees development only in dollar figures, to preserve his building. Unless it makes sense in his business plan. To me having a facade like this one is such a bonus that an owner would indeed be very foolish, business-wise, to destroy it. Can we put a dollar value on this? As an owner who has reaped the benefits of preservation, I can definitely see the value in better rent and higher occupancy, higher caliber of tenants, as well as higher sales for the tenants, solely because the building would be so much more attractive and stand out as a landmark. Now it will stand out as "the building that foolish owner destroyed". I think he is making a very big mistake Victor, there is definitely an added business advantage to preserving the facade, as compared to irretrievably ruining it. The difference in cost is small in the whole scheme of a development project, and it pays back exponentially, and also makes the building much more desirable if he sells.

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    @ Starchy , muah ha ha

    PS keep up the good painwork!

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    @Yosef, I agree there is an added business advantage . Even tho the difference is "small" the owners still don't have it, and no one else has stepped up to the plate.

  • Kickstarter to save the building? Outside funding? Mark Fishman owns and just put a ton into the Logan Theatre. Could he not help arrange financing with some of his friends in real estate or finance or do you think this is a conflict of interest for him?

  • I've been away for a few days so I'm a bit behind.

    Andrew I breezed thru the comments but still haven't read anything about what the Alderman thinks, were any other preservation groups contacted, who indicated the TIF funds are depleted, has there been any discussion of a fundraiser to cover the difference (kickstarter was mentioned above) and is the original facade a safety risk or just in need of repairs. To me that's the key. If the facade is not at risk of falling off then repairs could be completed in stages. As I mentioned before if there's a will there's a way.

    I believe it was victor who mentioned the current owners have owned the building for 30 years. It sounds ridiculous to me that after all that time now there's a crunch to get it done. What happens if the BP goes belly up in 6 months? We'll have lost an historic building unnecessarily. BTW I've seen the mockups of the new facade at chiboulevards.com and I'm not impressed.

  • I should add the building does not show up on the CHRS, which really is a shame. If the building was Orange rated for example we might not be having this discussion. In the bigger picture the City needs a better preservation process for our historic buildings. Day after day we lose more and more, sometimes without a whimper.

  • Chris,

    Regarding some of your comments:
    -When the CHRS was conducted, the building was sheathed in sheet metal. It wouldn't have registered because there was no way to tell what was under it - all they would have seen was a building of no historic significance. For that same reason it was difficult to approach the city's landmark commission about it. It was just too heavily impacted.
    -The time crunch only exists because leases were signed for two spaces in the building. The owners believed they'd exhausted all help when we first reached out to them in March and they worked with us in a last-ditch effort to save it.
    -Unfortunately, the problem with this building is that the entire facade would have to be taken down and reinstalled with metal pins. There have been a couple of instances of masonry falling to the sidewalk below.

    I desperately hope that even at the last minute some portion of the facade can be saved. The Spaulding Ave. portion is really beautiful by itself and would provide a template if left in place to restore the entire building if that some day becomes feasible.

  • Ryan Living all over Chicago

    I know I have read here multiple times that it is too late ect.... but wanted to throw an idea out there.... Would it help at all if someone started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to pay for the restoration?

  • Yosef A Logan Square neighbor since 1990

    I am hopeful that when all the external resources are exhausted, the owner will see the light and preserve his building with his own funds. Victor says he understands the value and I am assuming that someone who owns so much real estate lacks neither the vision nor the resources.

  • Thanks Ryan - I said the same thing but no one responded. Seriously. I'll donate right now if someone would start one.

  • I've reached out to the owners RE: a kickstarter campaign to see if that would make a difference. Stay tuned.

  • Ryan Living all over Chicago

    Oh yea sorry Turon, I had forgotten about that post up there

  • How much money would we need to raise to get it started? Like if there were stages of restoration?

  • Couldnt we work with the owner and the Brew Pub (if this is Three Floyds I can't imagine they would have a problem finding help to fund the restoration).

  • VictorPaul Logan Square Resident

    Now its a little to late I don't think its we are going to come up with $900000.00 in 3 days

  • No one is saying $900,000 - perhaps $100000 would get things started -

  • Yosef A Logan Square neighbor since 1990

    Firstly, I am fairly confident that the preservation work can be done for less than 900,000 if properly bid with competitive proposals. But you won't get those bids unless the owner commits to doing it, because the masonry contractors will feel like they are wasting their time otherwise and won't bid competitively. Secondly, the cost of the new brick facade will have to include the removal of the stones with a crane, which is almost half of the work. And then the rebuilding in brick will have its own cost, which is not disclosed. So the amount that the owner claims to be short is the difference. How much is that? When everything is figured out, it may be very small indeed. Or is the owner holding the facade for hostage for ransom?

  • Victor, It's the difference between the cost of tearing it off and putting brick up and repairing the original facade. You're suggesting that the COST is $900K and that's from the one mason who did Hairpin and that no one else has submitted an estimate. What's the approximate estimate to rebrick the building? Is it half, a third, a tenth etc.

    Andrew, after rereading these posts you mentioned a mason had offered to match the price of the brick work for the facade restoration? Is this correct? I know this is a difficult forum to talk specifics but I'm reading a lot of different stories of what's going on.

    Also if the facade is going to be removed what's going to happen to it? I'm suspicious I'm going to see it listed at one of the salvage shops for sale. I'm also curious how was the limestone originally attached. Were pins used at that time? Victor mentioned in a previous post it could be temporarily patched. Why can't this be done while money is raised for a permanent solution?

  • who is the owner of the building?

  • Yosef A Logan Square neighbor since 1990

    Victor can correct this if wrong, but I understand it's the Diaz family, they own the whole block plus more in the area.

  • I did not get to drive by yesterday. The day before all the scaffolding was set up. Have they started taking the facade down?

  • Yosef A Logan Square neighbor since 1990

    For those who were wandering who the brew-pub was, I got the scoop that it is a new tavern started by the owners of Cafe con Leche.I am sure that this is not news to some of the primary posters here, so I don't understand why we are not getting the whole story and have to piece it together.

  • Yosef A Logan Square neighbor since 1990

    The other night my wife and I were walking past Cafe con Leche and thought it looked beautiful, with a guitar player and a colorful menu, and decided we should try it on our next "date-night". Now I am confused, can't understand how a restaurateur who can put that together won't see the value of the facade and insist that it be preserve?. Can anyone verify if this true? Victor?

  • Cafe Con Leche is very nice and delicious. I did not know who the brewpub was, but that's pretty exciting. Thanks for the info. Now let's get this thing saved! People, start calling Cafe Con Leche and let them know you want to figure out a way to preserve the building. It's vital to our neighborhoods.

  • Yosef A Logan Square neighbor since 1990

    Looking at the facade a bit closer, I think the stones can be secured without having to take them off. except for the two that cracked all the stones appear in good shape, and the spandrels and pilasters are all monolithic so that there is just one large stone to secure between two windows, and one each above and below the window. Setting up steel channels anchored to floor and ceiling on the interior sides of each window and welding clip angles embedded into short slots made into the edge of each stone will hold the main stones on the pilaster and the spandrels in place. Smaller stones in between will be wedged between the main stones. Pock marks from the anchors of the old siding can be patched in place. This should cost even less than the brick facade. In fact it might even cost less than taking the stones down safely. Victor, you can call me at 773 704 4495, and we can meet over there and I can explain this to you. I think preserving that facade will actually make your whole block worth more, just as the preservation of the Logan Theater added to the value of that block, this will then extend the preserved blocks up to the hairpin building.

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