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While One Endangered Building is Saved, Another Prepares to Bite the Dust

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East Village’s St. Boniface will likely be demolished but the old Sears in Lincoln Square will be saved

Flickr Creative Commons/Devin Hunter

Residents in the East Village community are bracing themselves this week for the looming demolition of the old St. Boniface Church. Meanwhile up in Lincoln Square, one of the early Sears stores will be spared and will be redeveloped into a mixed-user. It’s a familiar scenario in Chicago: a historic building that has struggled to be redeveloped or repurposed and is now slated for demolition. And after years of standing vacant, time is running out for the Henry Schlacks-designed church. There have been demolition scares in the past, but this time it looks like it’s for real. Both St. Boniface and the Lincoln Square Sears store are buildings that Preservation Chicago has referred to as "endangered."


Despite the latest news on St. Boniface’s pending demolition, it’d be unfair to say that the community didn’t give preservation an honest shot. There had been multiple plans for the structure over the years, but the most recent proposal would have seen St. Boniface transformed into a music school. Preserving churches prove to be a exceptionally difficult challenge and require more thoughtful and careful consideration for redevelopment. There’s of course always a chance that the building could be partially saved, but at the moment, things are not looking particularly good.

However, things on the preservation front are looking a bit brighter in Lincoln Square. One of the oldest existing Sears stores in the city will be saved and redeveloped for apartments and retail space, DNAinfo reports. Located at 1900 W. Lawrence Avenue, the large Sears store dates all the way back to the 1920s. According to DNAinfo, the new plan would not only preserve the building, but it would seek to restore the exterior back to its original appearance before many of the large windows were filled in with brick. The developer, Springbank Real Estate Group, proposes 40 apartments, over 32,000 square feet of retail space, and 110 total parking spaces.

Meanwhile over in the West Loop, crews have made quick work of the former Harpo Studios campus. The building, located at 110 N. Carpenter Street, was not exactly historic or significant from an architectural standpoint, however those who worked for Oprah or attended the filming of a show will certainly have memories from it. The old Harpo Studios facility is being cleared out to make way for the new McDonald’s headquarters, which is expected to be completed by 2018.