PARTIAL WIN: Building Court Grant More Time to Great Lakes Elks Lodge / Panorama Theater to Correct Code Issues

Preservation Chicago is working closely with Craig Loftis, leadership of the Great Lakes Elks Club, their architect and lawyers, and other stakholders prevent the demolition of the Lodge. Urgency steps are being taken to resolve and correct defered maintenance issues that have been identified by city inspectors. Additinally, we have attended Building Court to stand alongside preservation partners to formally request a delay in any movement towards emergency demolition and to request additinoal time to raise funds and hire contractors to resolve specific code related issues. Significant progress is being made. Additionally, we are working to help resolve contradictory directives from the City of Chicago regarding the Elks Lodge status a theater or a dance club.

“The 86-year-old space–once a cinema and meeting point for the Chicago Suffragists–was opened as a private house music members club in 2015 by local artist Craig Loftis. He told Resident Advisor that he’s been battling with the City Council over “minor issues” to do with the building for several years.

“Since 1937, the building has been under the ownership of African-American fraternity group The Elks. Members of the group have been throwing music and dance events for the local community for decades. Loftis, who is also a member of the group, told RA that without the means to stay open for business, raising the target amount has become a catch-22 situation.

“For this reason, Loftis has launched a fundraiser to help the cause. While he’s confident that he can make the necessary repairs by the chosen date, he said shutting the building down was ‘unwarranted when one branch of the city government said we were operating in complete compliance and the other decided we weren’t.’

“Preservation Chicago, a local architectural conservation group, has joined forces with Loftis to help protect the venue from any possible future demolition threats, should it ever change hands. If granted, this would give the venue the chance to apply for city funding to help with restoration and renovation.

“The group’s spokesperson, Max Chavez, told RA that an application to get the building landmark status was submitted to the local authority last week and achieving this will mean the building ‘would be well-positioned’ to receive the funds.

“He continued: ‘Preservation Chicago is proud to partner with Craig Loftis on this important effort to save this significant historic site. This building is too important to lose and deserves to be honored as an official Chicago landmark.'(Resident Advisor, 9/27/23)

Read the full story at Resident Advisor

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