THREATENED: Precedent for Reversing Landmark Status Remains Problematic Despite Old Town Stable Development Comprise Offer

“A plan to change the zoning of a former horse stable and its neighboring buildings in the Old Town Triangle to limit what developers can build there was approved by a key city panel on Tuesday.

“The rezoning ordinance approved by the city’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards applies to four buildings from 1810–1820 N. Wells St. It would change what could be built there from a neighborhood shopping district to a mix of stores and apartments.

“‘This is a rezoning that is the outcome of a series of negotiations with Landmarks, the Department of Planning and a developer who had a pretty rocky experience — as our community did — in a project in Old Town,’ said Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), whose ward includes the properties.

“Developer Howard Weiner revealed his plans last fall to convert the properties into a multi-building, retail and residential development that includes the former garage at 1810-12 N. Wells St. The project also includes a three-story building at 1816-18 N. Wells; a two-story building at 1820 N. Wells; and a two-story coach house on the rear of 1816-18 N. Wells.

“Neighbors strongly opposed the project last fall because it would take landmark status away from the former horse stable, which was designated as ‘contributing’ to the neighborhood’s Historic Landmark District status in 1984. That means it has maintained features from the post-Great Chicago Fire period and is protected from demolition or additions like the one in Weiner’s proposal.

“Despite the opposition, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ Permit Review Committee voted unanimously last fall that the former stable’s historic designation was incorrect because the building had been severely altered since the landmark’s intended era. The building once had a second floor that was demolished in 1940, and the front facade was later replaced with new bricks.

“Neighbors were outraged by the ‘unprecedented’ decision and argued the building’s historical de-designation posed a serious threat to Old Town’s historic integrity.

“A handful of neighbors, including Susan Boggie and Diane Gonzales, who both spoke at the committee’s meeting, still opposed the project and Smith’s proposal.

“In a letter to Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who chairs the Zoning Committee, Boggie and several other neighbors asked for a delay on the vote. They also asked that the garage at 1810 N. Wells St. be reinstated to the Old Town Triangle Landmark District’s contributing list and that the Inspector General’s Office investigate the garage’s decommissioning in the first place.

“Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) was the only alderman on the committee to vote against the ordinance, which moves next to City Council for final approval.” (Wittich, Block Club Chicago, 6/22/21)

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

Controversial Plan To Turn Historical Old Town Stable Into Stores And Apartments Clears Key City Panel; Neighbors have opposed the project because it took landmark status away from the old building, Jake Wittich, Block Club Chicago, 6/22/21

Old Town apartment project faces a new obstacle; Ald. Michele Smith wants to downzone the property at 1810 N. Wells, saying a proposed three-story project there would clash with a 137-year-old building on the site, Alby Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/25/20

Neighbors Fuming After Historic Old Town Stable Loses Landmark Status, Will Become Modern Condos; The building was built in 1883 as a horse stable and designated “contributing” to the neighborhood’s Historic Landmark District status in 1984. It lost its status Thursday, Block Club Chicago, Jake Wittich, 10/2/20

N. Wells Community Meeting Presentation 9/22/20

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