Historic Medic Building Art Deco Façade Promised to be Reused…Vanishes!

As a Preservation Chicago 7 Most Endangered in 2013, the orange-rated Medic Building has long been a concern for the Preservation Community. Located at 3201 N. Ashland, it was a highly intact and stunning example of neighborhood Art Deco design. After a planned new construction Target fell through, a large-scale Whole Foods redevelopment lead by Novak Construction Company began in 2014.

As part of the negotiated redevelopment plan that allowed for the demolition of the historic building, Novak Construction made assurances that the Art Deco facade of the Medic building and “all of the significant ornament” which included over 100 pieces, would be carefully removed, stored on-site, and reused in the new development.”

Specifically, Novak Construction promised that large pieces of the ornate carved limestone facade would be reinstalled as full assemblies inside the new Whole Foods atrium. Preservation Chicago staff observed and photo documented the removal of the critical elements of the historic façade during a one-week period in 2014.

Fast forward two years and the redevelopment is complete with a shiny new Whole Foods Market anchor tenant. Last summer prior to project completion, Crain’s reported that Novak was looking to sell the property for an expected $70 Million. With ample profits, there should be more than sufficient funds to support a beautiful installation of the historic ornament which have beautified this neighborhood for over 80 years.

However, strikingly absent from the now completed redevelopment is the Art Deco Medic building façade. None of the historic façade was reused as part of the new façade. None of the historic façade elements were incorporated into the atrium of the Whole Foods. The only remnants of the once stunning, historic Art Deco Medic Building façade appears to be bits of chevron ornament mounted onto a knee-wall which will serve as a sidewalk bench. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Medic Building’s historic elements are being quietly marketed for sale!

Preservation Chicago is HIGHLY disappointed by this outcome, is seeking more information regarding the circumstances, and would like to see the initial promises regarding this development honored. Furthermore, Preservation Chicago would like to see additional legal and financial tools deployed in future developments to ensure and enforce that promises to communities, aldermanic offices, and city officials are kept and historic building materials handled per the agreement.

Suggested Reading

Echo of Art Deco Lakeview landmark demolished in 2014 to decorate sidewalk park adjacent to new Whole Foods, InsideBooster,  Peter Von Buol, 2/8/17

Medic Building Comes Down as Developers Prep for Ashland, Belmont Project, DNAinfo Chicago, Erica Demarest, 10/3/14

Whole Foods flagship in Lakeview could sell for $70 million, Crain’s Chicago Business, Ryan Ori, 6/30/16

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