The Booker Building, 4700 S. Cottage Grove Ave., is part of a vanishing breed—the vintage urban commercial corner. These corner buildings were the pillars supporting Chicago’s neighborhood commercial life marking the intersections of bustling shopping streets. Because of their prominent position, developers often blessed them with their finest architectural efforts. They offered retail on their first floors with office or residential above, the very formula now being rediscovered as “mixed use.” At the moment when these buildings could contribute most to the commercial revitalization of Chicago’s neighborhoods they are being demolished at an alarming rate. Preservation Chicago identified the Booker Building as threatened in 2008 when it was announced that, ironically, a “mixed use” development would replace the entire corner site.
Update:The Booker Building was demolished in late 2011 and the historic corner will be replaced by Aldi as its anchor tenant. When the original redevelopment agreement that would have replaced the Booker Building fell apart, the city stepped in with $1.7 million in public TIF funding to revive the project. Thus public funds have been used to facilitate the demolition of an historic building.