LOSS: Hollenbach Building Demolished

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The Hollenbach Building, 808 W. Lake Street, by Worthmann & Steinbach in 1912. Photo Credit: Debbie Mercer

The Hollenbach Building at 808 W. Lake Street has been demolished. It was built by Worthmann & Steinbach for Hollenbach Seed Company which was founded in 1877 and operated from Lake Street from 1909 to 1958.

This building was considered green by the Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS). Green rating indicates “pre-1940s properties whose exteriors have been slightly altered from their original condition” and therefore not subject to the 90-Day Demolition Delay requirement.

The Green rating also references the Illinois State Survey (ISS) from the 1970’s which noted Chicago buildings of significance. Many of the buildings identified in the ISS were given an orange rating in the CHRS survey of the 1980s and 90s. Orange rated buildings require a 90 Day Demolition Delay. Its possible that the Hollenbach Building was not given an orange rating in the CHRS because the original storefront and windows from 1912 had been replaced.

“The Hollenbach Building was a building at 808 W. Lake Street in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, which was designed by Worthmann & Steinbach and was built in 1912. It was built at a cost of $12,000, and was owned by Charles Hollenbach, housing the Hollenbach Seed Company. An addition was proposed in 1919, to be designed by Worthmann & Steinbach, but no permit was ever issued for its construction. Hollenbach Seed Company left the building in 1958, moving to the northwest suburbs.

“In 2013, the building was sold to One Off Hospitality Group for $1.7 million. The first floor currently houses One Off Hospitality Group’s Publican Quality Bread. Developer North Park Ventures plans to demolish the Hollenbach Building and adjacent buildings and build a 19-story hotel and office building.” (Hollenbach Building, Wikipedia Page)

The Fulton-Randolph Market District final Landmark recommendation was approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on May 13, 2015. Every building included in this district received protection against demolition. However, any buildings beyond the borders are without protections.

The Hollenbach Building was a beautiful historic building that could have been a contributing building included within the district, but it was excluded for unknown reasons. Preservation Chicago worked hard to advocate for the approval of the Fulton-Randolph Market District. At the time, there were objections from certain owners who preferred financial gain over neighborhood cohesion.

The Hollenbach Building should have been preserved and incorporated as part of the larger development. At a minimum, the façade should have be retained and integrated into the new construction. There is a successful example of a façade adaptive reuse a few blocks away at 905 West Fulton Market. In that case, the condition was more deteriorated than at 808 W. Lake Street, yet it was successfully incorporated into the new development and provides a sense of character and authenticity to the new construction.

Preservation Chicago had repeatedly reached out to urge North Park Ventures to pursue this direction, but the developer was unresponsive. The preservation effort was made much more difficult as there were no policy protections which applied to this building. The fate of this building rested solely on the whim of the developer.

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