THREATENED: 16 W. Maple Threatened by New Construction

16 W. Maple Street Details, built circa 1886. Photo Credit: Google Street View
16 W. Maple Street Details, built circa 1886. Photo Credit: Google Street View

Preservation Chicago is actively working to save from demolition the highly ornamented rowhouse at 16 W. Maple through direct outreach to stakeholders and decision makers. While our preference would be to save the building in its entirety, the preservation of the façade and incorporation into a new building would be preferable to demolition and a total loss.

16 W. Maple Street is a four-story Queen Anne rowhouse with burnt orange ornamental terra cotta window headers and trim, elaborate string courses, decorative iron railings, ornamental columns, a mansard roof, and a sculptural animal face in the triangular pediment. It was built in approximately 1886 as a single-family home. It is orange-rated in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, which requires a 90-Day Demolition Delay hold when the developer applies for a demolition permit. It has been the home to many restaurants including the Waterfront Prime Seafood and most recently the Italian restaurant Merlo on Maple.

In early January 2019, Curbed Chicago reported on a proposed new 22-story high-end residential tower to replace a four-story commercial building dating from 1991 at 12. W. Maple Street in the Gold Coast. At that time, it was reported that the adjacent ornamented rowhouse at 16 W. Maple was not part of the development and therefore not directly at risk.

Unfortunately, Preservation Chicago since learned that the historic rowhouse is controlled by the same development team with intentions to demolish the historic building and use the vacant site for their new construction. In late January 2019, Curbed Chicago confirmed the development proposal had been updated and included the planned demolition of 16 W. Maple Street.

The proposed 22-story glassy tower with 12 high-end duplex residences is by developers David Pisor and James Lasky with architectural design by Chicago-based architecture firm Booth Hansen. The new construction would include 16 underground parking spaces, a restaurant, event space, a private club on floors one through six with residential units above.

Higher-density zoning is often a death knell to low-rise historic buildings like this rowhouse on Maple. This zoning differential between the height of what is built and what could be build is attractive to brokers and developers. Many specifically target historic low rise buildings in older to profit by literally buying low and selling high as the Downtown Mixed-Use District DX-7 zoning has no maximum building height. Zoning changes or landmark protections need to be implemented to correct this imbalance.

2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins held a community meeting regarding the proposal on a frigid Chicago night on January 22, 2019. Preservation Chicago has been in communication with the alderman’s office to advocate against the proposed demolition of the historic rowhouse. We urge Alderman Hopkins to deny the required Planned Development request unless the development plans incorporate the existing historic building or revert to their original plans to build only on the adjacent parcel.

Additional Reading
Slender Gold Coast high-rise with just 12 units revealed in new renderings; The luxury development will contain a restaurant, private club, and a handful of high-end residences, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 1/24/19

Slender residential tower looks to squeeze into narrow Gold Coast site; The proposed building would rise 22 stories but contain only 12 residential units Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 1/11/19


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