From left to right: Landmarks Commission Chair Rafael Leon, JGMA’s Juan Gabriel Moreno, property owner Evonne M. Stavrakos, and Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman. Moreno and Stavrakos worked on the property at 421 E. 50th St.

Landmarks Commission honors Chicago's best preservation projects

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks honored 13 unique redevelopment projects with 2016 Preservation Excellence Awards today, including the adaptive reuse of the original “Chicago Defender” headquarters in Bronzeville, the rehabilitation of three buildings affiliated with noted “Chicago School” architectural firm Holabird & Roche, and the restoration of Homan Square’s original “Sears Tower.”

“The awards reflect outstanding commitments by private property owners to preserve and promote the City’s architectural heritage and its enduring impact on the character of our neighborhoods,” said David L. Reifman, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, which provides staff services to the Landmarks Commission.

The honorees were chosen by the Commission’s Permit Review Committee, which considered nearly 50 projects involving individual landmarks and landmark district buildings that were completed over the last year.

The awards were presented to project representatives at the former Chicago Athletic Association building, which received an award for its rehabilitation as a boutique hotel. Held for the 17th year, the ceremony included property owners, architects, design professionals and historic preservation specialists and advocates.

Other honored projects included the adaptive resuse of a former African-American political organization headquarters and the new construction of a single-family residence, both in Grand Boulevard; rehabilitated commercial buildings on the Near West Side, Douglas and Logan Square; the rehabilitation of two row houses in Oakland; and the restoration of a private home in Kenwood.

Information on each of the award recipients is available below.

210–20 N. Green St. (Fulton-Randolph Market District)

This building was built in 1904 for the meatpacking company called Vette & Zunckner Packing Co. The current owners purchased this commercial building prior to the Commission’s preliminary landmark designation recommendation to create the district.
The team worked closely with the Historic Preservation Division staff to ensure that the new storefronts, replacement windows, and brick repairs would bring this building back to its original appearance as closely as possible.

2760–76 N. Milwaukee Ave. (Milwaukee-Diversey-Kimball District)

These two buildings, one of which was originally an S.S. Kresge store, were built in 1928‐29. After the current owner purchased these commercial buildings, exterior and interior rehabilitation work began. The project included exposing historic features, repairing the terra cotta facades, restoring the upper‐floor windows that had been previously boarded, and installing new storefronts.
The upper‐floor of the buildings, which had been vacant for years, were converted to residential use and the project also included a new 1‐story rooftop addition and rooftop decks

421 E. 50th St. (Washington Park Court District)

This small residential enclave contains stone and brick row houses of high architectural quality. The physical distinctive aspects of this block were and continue to be an attraction to homeowners on the street.
The recipient purchased this vacant lot and constructed a new 2½‐story single‐family residence. The building’s massing, limestone façade detailing, large windows, and grand entry stair are all features that are compatible with the architectural character of this historic street.

4830 S. Kenwood Ave. (Kenwood District)

This Queen‐Anne style single‐family home was designed by the architectural firm Flanders and Zimmerman and built in 1892. The current owner undertook a major project to restore the exterior of this house to its original appearance. The non‐historic asphalt siding was removed and the original historic wood siding was exposed, repaired, and repainted.

900 W. Randolph St. (Fulton-Randolph Market District)

This 2‐story brick commercial building was built in 1908 and had been used throughout the years for wholesale produce distribution. Work to this important corner building included brick repairs and cleaning, all new storefronts and windows to match the historic appearance, and all new interior systems.

928–30 E. 42nd Place (Oakland Multiple Resource District)

These two row houses were built in the 1890s in the Romanesque Revival architectural style. The buildings had been vacant for many years and in building court until the current owner purchased them in 2015.
Extensive rehabilitation work included rebuilding the missing stone gable, recreating the bay window cladding and details, installing new windows and all new roofing

Chicago Athletic Association Building, 12 S. Michigan Ave. (Historic Michigan Boulevard District)

AJ Capital Partners purchased the property and undertook an extensive exterior and interior rehabilitation to create a new and vibrant hotel. The scope of work included significant masonry repairs and cleaning, window restoration and replacement, new storefronts for retail uses, and two new canopies which recreated the historic canopies.
The project also included a new 1‐story rooftop addition and rooftop deck for restaurant use, and a vegetative “green” roof. The owner also undertook extensive restoration of several historic interior spaces: the main lobby, the pool room, the marble foyer, the second floor lounge, and the 8th floor ballroom.
By exposing and repairing the original floors, installing new light fixtures to match the historic design, and recreating missing features such as the dramatic plaster ceiling in the ballroom, these interior spaces have been returned to their original splendor

Chicago Defender Building, 3435 S. Indiana Ave. (Black Metropolis-Bronzeville District)

The building was first a synagogue, then converted to warehouse space, and then used from the 1920‐1960 as the Chicago Daily Defender’s offices and printing operations. The building had been vacant for many years until the current owner purchased the building.
The engineer of record then uncovered dangerous conditions regarding the structural stability of the front façade and notified the proper authorities, including the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Working closely with various City departments, the front facade was carefully dismantled and rebuilt to match the historic appearance.

Chicago Motor Club Building, 68 E. Wacker Place

The building had been vacant since 2004 and was in building court due to significant deterioration until the recipient purchased the property and converted this important commercial building into a new 143‐room Hampton Inn hotel. The extensive rehabilitation included masonry repairs of all facades, masonry cleaning of the front limestone façade, the dismantlement, repair and reconstruction of the decorative cast‐iron ornament, and repair of historic windows.
The dramatic triple‐height main lobby has been restored to its original splendor with new paint to match the historic color scheme, repair of water damaged plaster detailing, the uncovering and repair of the original patterned terrazzo flooring, and reinstallation of original light fixtures

Nichols Tower, 906 S. Homan Ave. (Sears, Roebuck and Co. District)

Inside the building, the main lobby was returned to its 1906 appearance and the building’s upper floors were made accessible and code compliant with new elevators and stairs. The project’s crowning achievement was the restoration of the 14th floor observation room which included restoring the flooring and recreation of deteriorated plasterwork and missing iron balcony railings

Old Colony Building, 407 S. Dearborn St.

The 17‐story office building was underutilized until the current owner purchased the building and converted it into multi‐unit residential apartments for student housing. Exterior work included masonry repairs, recreating the missing stonework at the Van Buren entry, repairs to the large double‐hung windows, and installation of new storefronts to match the historic designs and ornament

Three Arts Club Building, 1300 N. Dearborn Pkwy.

The building was renovated into a furniture gallery for a new Restoration Hardware retail space and the atrium has been reactivated as a restaurant. In addition to extensive masonry repairs and restoration of the historic first‐floor windows. The project also included a new glass roof structure within the historic atrium and a new 1‐story rooftop addition and deck

Unity Hall, 3140 S. Indiana Ave. (Black Metropolis-Bronzeville District)

Designed by architect L.B. Dixon, the building is faced in red pressed brick with stone accents and decorative metal trim and is an excellent example of the type of buildings found in this community in the 1880s.
By 2012, however, the building was sitting vacant and the windows had been boarded. After years of deferred maintenance, the new owner converted the building into multi‐unit residential use.