WIN: Saved from Demolition, Former Industrial Building Reused as Parchment Studio

Parchment Studio, 2902 W. Armitage Avenue. Photo credit: Bob Coscarelli

“A 120-year-old metal finishing warehouse on Logan Square’s Armitage Avenue that was spared from the wrecking ball is now a vibrant food prop styling studio, thanks to its new owner and Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st).

“The transformation started in 2019, when food prop stylist Johanna Lowe bought two neighboring properties on Armitage Avenue near Richmond Street from longtime owner Al Meijer of AAA Metal Finishing. When Lowe first toured the 7,000-square-foot property, Meijer had already accepted another offer from a developer who wanted to tear down the buildings and build condos in their place.

“‘It’s a tried and true story: Someone who saw no value in the existing building wanted to demolish it for new residential with zero affordable’ units, Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said.

“It seemed the buildings were headed for the wrecking ball, but La Spata stepped in and rejected the developer’s zoning change request, and the deal fell apart. Lowe was next in line. Because of the alderman’s stance, Lowe was able to buy the old buildings and completely transform them into Parchment Studio, a high-end food prop styling studio with bow truss ceilings and original details, including furniture from Meijer’s metal finishing company.

“The adaptive reuse project is an example of how so-called aldermanic prerogative — the power alderpeople have to block zoning decisions in their wards — can benefit neighborhoods if used correctly, Lowe and La Spata said.

“‘When you’re willing to say no and wait, you do end up with better projects,’ La Spata said.

“Despite the challenges, construction wrapped up earlier this year. Today, the old metal finishing warehouse is a meticulously designed studio with a full-service kitchen and a kitchen prop room, as well as cozy seating areas. A lover of old materials, Lowe incorporated Meijer’s decades-old metalworking furniture into the design. The kitchen islands are made with sideboards from Meijer’s office, and Meijer’s shelving is in the prop room. Lowe also used metal cladding on the front facade as a nod to Meijer’s business.

“‘There are stories to tell with old buildings, whereas with new builds, there’s no history. I think it’s just a marvelous thing to recognize the value of something beyond the cosmetic nature of it,’ she said. ‘If it’s got good bones, then revive it. There’s so much waste in the building industry.’

“La Spata said this project should serve as a model for other parts of the 1st Ward and neighborhoods across the city. ‘It’s the kind of story that we really want to replicate up and down our commercial corridors, a real respect for what these buildings are,’ he said. (Bloom, Block Club Chicago, 10/13/21)

Read the full story with photos at Block Club Chicago

120-Year-Old Warehouse In Logan Square Sees New Life As Food Prop Stylist’s Studio After Alderman Says No To Condos: The adaptive reuse project is an example of how aldermanic prerogative can benefit neighborhoods if used correctly, the new property owner and Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said, Mina Bloom, Block Club Chicago, 10/13/21

Parchment Studio Website

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