POTENTIAL WIN: City Seeks Developer for Landmarked Stock Yards Bank

The interior lobby on the first floor of the Colonial Revival-style Stockyard Bank Building, constructed in 1925 and shuttered in 1973, at 4146 South Halsted Street in Back-of-the-Yards on July 20, 2021. Photo credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago

“City officials are reigniting their effort to get someone to revitalize the old Stock Yards Bank building, an oversized replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall that towers over Halsted Street south of Bridgeport.

“‘This is the right time, with the mayor’s commitment to holistic development across all neighborhoods,’ said Ciere Boatright, whom Mayor Brandon Johnson tapped in October as the new commissioner for the Chicago Department of Planning & Development, or DPD.

“‘We want to put this vacant building — it’s been vacant for 50 years — back to use,’ Boatright said. ‘It’s an awesome opportunity to bring economic development’ to the area around the old Union stockyards just south of Bridgeport.

“On Dec. 13, the DPD is holding an informational webinar for potential redevelopers of the 35,000-square-foot Stock Yards Bank building, completed in 1925 at 4150 S. Halsted St. The asking price is $1.9 million.

“Development proposals are due Jan. 12. Boatright said city officials have no specific preference for a use type, such as housing or office space. ‘We’ll see what the proposals are,’ she said.

“In 2000, the city acquired the already-vacant bank for $200,000 through eminent domain to prevent demolition. Since then, several efforts to get the building, which the city designated as a landmark in 2008, back into use have failed to launch. Notable among them were City Hall’s 2006 pitch to get it reused as a banquet hall and steakhouse, and a 2017 concept from architect Helmut Jahn’s firm to make it into an ‘energy bank’ generating renewable energy for nearby businesses.

“Almost a century ago, the Stock Yards Bank, founded in 1868 and also known in the past as the Live Stock National Bank, spent $500,000 — the equivalent of nearly $9 million in today’s dollars — to build its new fireproof bank building near the entrance to the vast Union stockyards. With the Tudor-style hotel, it presented a sophisticated gateway to the 375-acre stockyards packed with over 100,000 animals at a time.

“The bank’s design by architect Abraham Epstein is an homage to, but far larger than, the mid-1700s Georgian building in Philadelphia where the nation’s founders debated and signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution.

“The bank closed in 1965 and the stockyards closed in 1971. According to Boatright, the bank building has not been reoccupied in the more than half a century since.

“‘Fifty years is too long,’ she said.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/29/23)

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

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