Local preservationists raised a collective concerned eyebrow this week when the City of Chicago issued a demolition permit for the 19th century River North rowhomes located at 4 East Huron. Purchased by CA Ventures (formerly known as Campus Acquisitions) in 2013 for a cool $6.1 million, it's unclear if the historic buildings will be replaced by the site's long-reported student housing turned rental proposal or if the vintage homes are merely being cleared away to make the parcel more attractive to new buyers. While buildings such as these provide variety to a streetscape dominated by beige colored towers perched atop slab-sided parking podiums, they are also becoming increasingly rare. As the current building boom snatches up more and more of River North's prime surface parking lots, developers are eyeing existing buildings for demolition regardless of their age and charisma.
Other notable historic River North rowhomes have recently bit the dust or may soon face the wrecking ball. In 2013 a collection of vintage buildings was razed to make way for Loyola's Quinlan School of Business and the neighboring 35-story rental tower located at State and Chestnut. While the single-story retail fronting State was quite ugly, the development also saw two rather pretty walk-ups located at 6-16 East Pearson sadly reduced to riprap. Another pair of threatened old-school River North greystones are located at 40-46 East Superior. News surfaced last year of a plan for a new 36-story high rise hotel designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for the northeast corner of Wabash and Superior. Little since has been heard regarding the proposal, and the restaurant, coffee shop, and hair salon occupying the two buildings appear to be operating under renewed leases. But if the SOM-designed project has indeed stalled, it's perhaps only a matter of time before another proposal comes along with a new offer too good for current ownership to refuse.
·36 Story SOM Designed Hotel & Apartment Tower Proposed [Curbed Chicago]
·Preservation Watch archives [Curbed Chicago]