The Chicago City Council has approved a revised plan for the development at 1810 N Wells Street in Old Town Triangle. Sited on a midblock lot along N Wells Street, the site is located between N Lincoln Avenue and W Menomonee Street. Chicago Development Partners is the developer behind the project.
Designed by Pappageorge Haymes, the development looks to carry out a partial demolition of an existing one-story and construct a new three-story rooftop addition, holding residential and retail uses. The proposed project will contain four buildings in total, including the one-story garage building at 1810 N Wells Street, a three-story mixed-use structure at 1816-18 N Wells Street with a two-story coach house in the back, and a two-story mixed-use building at 1820 N Wells Street. The entire development will reach 150 feet deep with 80 feet of frontage along N Wells Street. The buildings at 1816-1820 N Wells Street will be fully retained and renovated, including the coach house in the back of the lot.
For the one-story structure at 1810 N Wells Street, the project will retain the walls of the building and construct a new three-story rooftop addition with setbacks. To move forward with the partial demolition and construction, the Permit Review Committee determined in October 2020 that the structure is not contributing to the Old Town Triangle Historic District and will not have an adverse effect on the building and historic district.
According to the staff report from the October 2020 proceedings, the building’s second floor was demolished in the 1940s or 1950s, and a new roof structure was built. The face brick was also replaced. These changes were made after 1929, so the current appearance doesn’t reflect the characteristics of the district from its time period of significance. The staff report stated that the building doesn’t have the typical architectural features of the district, including the unusual one-story height in comparison to the typical two through four-story heights in the district. The building’s face brick doesn’t match the district after being altered, and due to the upper level demolition, the roof structure is also new. The alterations made are substantial and cannot be easily reversed. The structure does maintain the street wall and access typical of the district.
The development scheme proposed in October 2020 was found to observe the general scale of the district. Its height, at 64 feet, matched with the historic building to the north, and each setback matched the profile of the adjacent building to the north. The setbacks clearly defined the new addition and distinguished it from the existing one-story structure. The rooftop addition used metal piers and spandrels to organize bands of windows. The main piers aligned with the vertical masonry piers of the one-story building. While the windows weren’t the exact type used in the district, they related to the vertical orientation of windows common in the historic district. Materials that were proposed for the project are glass and metal, using blackened steel that is consistent with metal casement windows in the district. The project deliberately stayed well below the allowable zoning to respect the neighborhood context. The new development will allow for the removal of the fire escape on the building at 1816-1818 N Wells Street, improving the character of the street.
Since the Permit Review Committee approved the project, against the will of the alderman and community members, the alderman and community members have negotiated a compromise with the developers. According to the alderman, the object of the compromise was to preserve the gateway to the Old Town Triangle District the best they could under the circumstances. As a result, the proposed addition to the structure at 1810 N Wells Street is much smaller than approved, set back 20 feet further from the alley. The planned addition would be built with brick instead of glass and steel with window openings more consistent, though not identical, with the window openings on N Wells Street.
For CTA access near the project, the 22, 36, and 73 CTA bus routes can be accessed at the Clark and Lincoln stop, within a one-minute walk away. The Sedgwick CTA L station, serviced by the Brown and Purple Lines, is an 11-minute walk away.
With the still standing approval from the Permit Review Committee and the full Chicago City Council approval, the developer can move forward with the project. No permits have been filed for the project and no official timeline has been announced.
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Yay for preservation! This is a strong example of compromise where everybody should win.