POTENTIAL WIN: City of Chicago Seek Developers for Central Manufacturing District Warehouses (Chicago 7 2014 and 2020)

Central Manufacturing District Buildings, Pershing Road, Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Watch Preservation Chicago’s Central Manufacturing District-Original East District Walking Tour video recorded September 25th, 2021 Image Credit: Preservation Chicago

“The city is reviving a push to redevelop a massive and empty historic warehouse it owns in McKinley Park, starting with a plan to put the property up for sale.

“The Chicago Community Development Commission today unanimously approved a proposal to seek developers for the six-story building at 1769 W. Pershing Road and a property next door, at 1717 W. Pershing, that the city uses as a vehicle-storage facility.

“The properties sit in the city’s old Central Manufacturing District. It was one of the nation’s first industrial parks when it opened in the early 20th century, but now it’s mostly a collection of imposing and underutilized brick-and-terra-cotta structures waiting to be transformed. So far, however, plans to redevelop most of the buildings haven’t made it past the talking stage.

“In 2018, the city solicited developers for the building at 1769 W. Pershing and a matching warehouse it owns next door, at 1819 W. Pershing. The city also entered the properties in a design competition sponsored by C40, a global network of cities working to combat climate change. But the process didn’t yield any acceptable development proposals, and the city decided not to move forward.

“‘The buildings have seen years of deferred maintenance and may have un-remediated environmental concerns,’ Nolan Zaroff, a planner in the Department of Planning & Development, told the commission at its meeting today.

“‘In the past, city efforts to market and sell these properties have considered them as a whole, but this RFP looks to break them into more manageable chunks, which we think will improve the likelihood of them receiving feasible proposals,’ Zaroff said.

“Last year, a development group secured a combination of public and private financing to convert another vintage warehouse down the street, at 2159 W. Pershing, into 120 affordable apartments.

“The Department of Planning & Development plans to release a request for proposals for the two city-owned properties on July 18. Developers will be required to submit their proposals by Oct. 21.” (Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/12/22)

Preservation Chicago applauds the City of Chicago for moving forward with this Request for Qualifications and Proposals. This approach has proved successful with the Old Main Post Office and others. We also wish to applaud the City of Chicago for recognizing the value of these historic buildings and for requiring that proposals include their redevelopment.

The Central Manufacturing District has long been a concern of Preservation Chicago. In 2020, Preservation Chicago named the Pershing Road section of the Central Manufacturing District, which includes the clock tower and warehouses, as one of Chicago’s most endangered historic places. In 2021, Preservation Chicago did the same for the CMD Original East District.

Chicago’s CMD was one of the first planned industrial districts in the country. The grand and magnificent buildings that comprise the CMD harken back to a time in the early 1900s to the 1920s when big companies began housing operations there – including Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co., the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Albert Pick & Co. and the U.S. Cold Storage Company.

Creating a Landmark District now will provide significant safeguards to protect the CMD buildings going forward. A remarkable number of the buildings are intact, but development pressure is mounting. Now is the time to advance a Chicago Landmark District for both the Pershing Road buildings and the East District (bounded by Ashland Avenue to the west, 35th Street to the north, Morgan Street to the East, and Pershing Road to the south). Both of these areas are already National Register of Historic Places Historic Districts. Preservation Chicago was responsible for the idea of creating a Central Manufacturing District National Register District and funded much of the historical research for this successful designation.

Of particular concern is the CMD Clock Tower which was listed for sale in November 2021. Its is iconic, but also suffering from years of deferred maintenance and neglect.

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

City seeks developer—again—for huge vintage warehouse in McKinley Park; Four years after an unsuccessful push to redevelop obsolete industrial buildings it owns on Pershing Road, Chicago officials are giving it another shot, Alby Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/12/22

Clock Tower For Sale as McKinley Park Industrial Properties Make Moves in Marketplace, McKinley Park News, Justin Kerr, 11/13/21

Preservation Chicago Central Manufacturing District – Pershing Road Chicago 7 Most Endangered 2020 Article

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