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Demolition of historic River North row houses postponed another 90 days

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The site is home to an ongoing preservation battle, aldermanic down-zoning, and a class-action lawsuit by Chinese investors

The “orange rated” buildings at 42-46 E. Superior Street have received another 90 day reprieve from demolition.
Jay Koziarz

A handful of historic River North buildings will stick around for at least a few more months after owners agreed to push back demolition by an additional 90 days. While the Italianate style structures at 42 and 44-46 E. Superior Street were already serving a brief demo hold triggered by their historical significance, the extension postpones a meeting with the wrecking ball from January to March 8 at the earliest, reports Loop North News.

Constructed in the late 19th century on the heels of the Great Chicago Fire, the old Superior Street buildings were targeted for redevelopment last spring when New York-based Symmetry Property Development unveiled its proposal for a 725-foot-tall combination hotel and residential tower dubbed “The Carillon.”

Although Alderman Brendan Reilly quickly rejected the plan over traffic concerns, Symmetry applied for demolition permits in October of this year. The move prompted Reilly to introduce a legislative measure that would down-zone the site to a far less dense designation and restrict future development. The proposed ordinance is still actively being considered but has yet to pass the full Chicago City Council.

The Carillon proposal called for 216 hotel rooms, 120 timeshare units, and 246 luxury condominiums.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The agreement to delay demolition by another 90 days is welcome news to preservationists pushing to safeguard River North’s increasingly rare 19th century rowhouses. Though the buildings may not warrant landmark protection on their own individual merit, collectively they could contribute to the creation of new landmark district, according to Preservation Chicago.

Adding another element to the story, is a lawsuit filed on behalf of 90 Chinese investors involved with the rejected Carillon high-rise. The class-action suit alleges that $49.5 million paid to the project through the EB-5 visa program has not been returned.

The plaintiffs are seeking a full refund plus interest and legal fees. Calls to the developer have gone unanswered, according to an email from Deerfield-based lawyer Douglas Litowitz to Curbed Chicago. Litowitz was not immediately available for comment.

Created in 1990, the EB-5 program provides foreign nationals with visas and an accelerated path to permanent US residency in exchange for large-scale investments in American development projects. It has come under increased scrutiny in recent years amid several high-profile scandals.