Potentially THREATENED: Washington Park National Bank Building Redevelopment Initiative (Chicago 7 2016) Workshops February 6 and February 20

From Chuck Sido’s Bisnow Article:

“The Cook County Land Bank Authority, which was established to clear the titles of distressed properties for resale to prospective homeowners and developers, is entering the redevelopment game itself.

The Land Bank Authority last month obtained the deed to the Washington Park National Bank building in Woodlawn and hosted the first of three public meetings to get community input into how the building should be repurposed.

The building was listed on Preservation Chicago’s 2016 list of most endangered buildings. Designed by Albert Schwartz and built in 1924, the 33,000 SF limestone building at 6300 South Cottage Grove has been vacant and in disrepair for decades.

It is now a redevelopment opportunity in the epicenter of real estate development at 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. The building is steps from the 63rd/Cottage Grove Green Line ‘L’ station. The Preservation of Affordable Housing Chicago has redeveloped the former Grove Parc public housing site into a mix of market-rate, affordable and public housing, and is building Woodlawn Station on the northwest corner of the ‘L’ station.

The Washington Park National Bank Building is also near the future site of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. The next two public meetings to discuss redevelopment options for the building will be held Feb. 6 and Feb. 20 at Harris Park, 6200 South Drexel Ave.”

Preservation Chicago applauds the Cook County Land Bank Authority and the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) for coordinating and facilitating this workshop to solicit resident input for the redevelopment of this historic building.

However, Preservation Chicago was alarmed by MPC’s decision to include two demolition options in the materials distributed during the first workshop. Demolition should absolutely not be an option considered for this historic building and important commercial corridor anchor. Even if new construction is the preferred direction due the condition of the historic building, the existing facade should be retained.

Demolition and New Construction Options for the Historic Washington Park National Bank Building included in the Redevelopment Workshop Materials from the January 30, 2017 workshop, Created and Distributed by Metropolitan Planning Council

The Woodlawn community is strong and resilient, but has suffered through decades of disinvestment and demolition, and the vacant lots that inevitably follow. The community is already burdened by too many empty lots and any new construction ideas should be directed to towards activating vacant lots, not destroying a community anchor.

The Washington Park National Bank Building is an important neighborhood anchor on a commercial corridor that has seen the tragic loss of many of its important building. It is it essential for the long-term reinvestment and prosperity of this commercial district that this historic building be preserved and redeveloped.

It is important that the Woodlawn Community clearly establish that historic preservation is a requirement of the Request for Proposals that will likely be released in spring 2018 and will guide the developers who participate.

Please attend the next two workshops.
2nd Workshop Tuesday, Feb. 6
3rd Workshop Tuesday, Feb. 20
From 6 to 8 pm
At Harris Park, 6200 S. Drexel Avenue

Confirm your attendance at this link to Metroplaning.orgor with general questions, contact Sawyer Middeleer at 312.863.6024 or smiddeleer@metroplanning.org.

Additional Reading

Cook County Land Bank Authority To Redevelop Endangered Woodlawn Building, Chuck Sudo, Bisnow, 2/1/18

Closer to Resurrection; Cook County Land Bank Authority announces community-led redevelopment of historic bank building in Woodlawn, Christian Belanger, South Side Weekly, 12/20/17

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