The Chicago Transit Authority began the demolition of a collection of buildings in Lake View to make way for the “controversial” elevated flyover project. In planning for over a year, the project is intended to reduce the elevated train congestion bottleneck at the Belmont Avenue Station for the Red, Brown and Purple Line trains.
While Preservation Chicago values public transit and highly encourages improvements to Chicago’s elevated transit system, the demolition of 14 buildings to allow construction of the flyover is highly disappointing. Buildings slated for demolition include five buildings on the west side of Wilton Avenue, between 3240 and 3252 N. Wilton Avenue, four on Clark Street, including 3334-3344, 3346-3348, 3366 and 3401-3407 N. Clark Street, plus 947 W. Roscoe Street. Scheduled for fall demolition are four more buildings on Clark, including 3328, 3413, 3415-3419 and 3421 N. Clark Street.
As a result of much public feedback and comments from consulting partners including Preservation Chicago, the CTA chose relocation over demolition for the historic Vautravers Building at 947-949 W. Newport Avenue which is part of the Newport Avenue Chicago Landmark District.
The loss of such a large number of buildings will leave a deep and permanent scar in a vibrant portion of Clark Street in the Lake View neighborhood. Many Lake View residents are justifiably upset that the bulldozing of a so many of historic buildings will damage the historic Clark Street streetwall and character of the neighborhood.
“Demolishing some of these structures would “irreparably” damage the community, and change its visual and economic character, said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. We’re not out to save every old building, but we’re out to save buildings with historical or architectural significance. We can’t leave a big scar on this urban landscape and this historic district.” (Wisniewski, Chicago Tribune, March 7, 2018)
While the CTA has been open to community concerns, specific alterations to design plans that could have mitigated the impact were not made. Unfortunately, the design modifications that could have saved additional buildings or facades to protect the streetscape have not been pursued to date.
Demolition of Lake View buildings to begin this week for CTA ‘flyover’ project, Mary Wisniewski and Ese Olumhense, Chicago Tribune, March 7, 2018