Lawson House Renovation Secures 16th Place in Tallest Construction Countdown

Victor F. Lawson House in August 2021Victor F. Lawson House in August 2021, via Google Maps

Number 16 in Chicago YIMBY’s year-end countdown of tallest construction projects is the renovation of the 90-year-old Victor F. Lawson House, located at 30 W Chicago Avenue. Situated in Near North Side directly across from JDL’s One Chicago megadevelopment, this 24-story edifice was originally designed by Perkins, Chatten & Hammond, and completed in 1931. Today, the 272-foot Art Deco building holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, having until recently housed a YMCA.

Victor F. Lawson House

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation is behind the redevelopment, which received a $74.2 million permit in October to overhaul the interior. The scope of the work involves the deconversion of 538 single room occupancy (SRO) units to 409 units, as well as on-site social services, and ground-floor retail space. The entirety of residences will be affordable and government subsidized. In 2014, Holsten Real Estate purchased the property for one dollar under the condition of keeping the residential portion as affordable housing for a minimum of 50 years. Funding-wise, the developer recently received a $17.59 million loan from the City, a $79.38 million bridge loan from Chase Bank, and a $17.2 million loan from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. According to a September article by the Chicago Sun Times, further funds are are being sourced from syndicating low-income housing tax credits and $12.4 million in historic preservation tax credits.

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Inside, the units will be modernized and retrofitted to include private kitchens and baths, while revamping the HVAC system to provide in-unit air conditioning. Other notable building changes involve transforming the former gymnasium into a fitness center, as well as moving the main entrance from the south-facing side on Chicago Avenue to the west-facing side along Dearborn Street. Given its historic facade, the exterior walls will remain virtually intact. The project architect overseeing these renovation updates is Chicago-based Farr Associates.

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

The site sits near several major bus routes, the closest of which is service for Route 66 and northbound service for Route 22, both located at the adjacent intersection of Chicago & Dearborn. Southbound service for Route 22 can be found just one block west, while additional bus service for Route 36 is located one block east at Chicago & State. Closest CTA L service can be found for the Red Line subway via Chicago station just paces east from Lawson House.

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Walsh Construction is serving as general contractor. While on-site activity has been minimal up until now, all needed permits to kickstart the work have been issued. Currently, completion is slated for mid 2024 for what is currently Chicago’s second-tallest renovation project.

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8 Comments on "Lawson House Renovation Secures 16th Place in Tallest Construction Countdown"

  1. Really glad to see this, it’s a gem that needs some love and will be a nice compliment to the new One Chicago project wrapping up. What would also help this is to infill the parking lots that surround it…they really destroy the vibrancy around this area making it feel like a smaller Rust Belt city’s downtown.

    • I second all this.

    • those parking lots are begging for some density. hopefully 500+ ft

      • Steve River North | December 18, 2021 at 10:29 am | Reply

        First would be to extend Pearson to Dearborn, might have to bend it a little. Need to look at the whole State and Chicago corner and surrounding buildings and lots. I know the preservationist will want to keep the corner building. Perhaps we could demo the rest and build new along both Chicago and State in the style of the corner building. That would leave parking lot behind that could be accessed from Pearson or Dearborn.

  2. It’s sad when you have to add in renovations just to complete a countdown.

    • Since we wanted to include Tribune Tower, we extended the rules to encompass similar projects

    • Bobby Siemiaszko | December 16, 2021 at 5:06 pm | Reply

      I agree. It’s really sad, especially when looking at NY YIMBY. They file at least an 8-10 story building everyday, but usually much taller. We try to build a 5 story building on Addison that has been empty for years and the neighbors complain it’s like downtown with the height and they don’t want the density and it’s rejected. We have to throw in renovations of buildings to fill in our top 31. We’re lucky to build a 3 flat somewhere on an empty plot of land. NYC lowest height for top 31 is 545 feet. Most of our buildings wouldn’t even fit in their top 100. I don’t really know if that speaks of how well NY is doing or how poorly Chicago is doing.

      • Great comment. I would say NY has definitely exploded but the results are evidence that supports Chicago is performing poorly relatively speaking. There was a time when we could match them height for height as well as having superior designs/materials on the average skyscraper. We have completely given up that innovative spirit and given control of the cityscape over to corporate developers looking for a quick flip who build glass-budget-boxes, radical resident organizations that don’t want transformation in their neighborhoods and “leaders” that lack vision. NY always has the mindset of proving it is the center of the universe and the greatest city on the planet.

        The reality that our desirable neighborhoods are lucky to get a 5 story building approved sometimes after years of pushback and lawsuits is unbelievable. Chicago has deteriorated into a has been that is in it’s own way of making progress. Our neighborhoods are basically museums that will remain far off historic population totals and their scale will never increase.

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