THREATENED: 6740 S. South Shore Drive Begins 90-Day Demolition Delay

“A Mediterranean house in South Shore has survived two developers’ demolition plans in recent decades” but may not survive this third attempt.

“In 2007, a developer planned to replace the house and another building on the site with a 19-story, 128-condo building and three attached townhouses, a plan that was scaled down from the developer’s initial plan to build a 30-story tower on the site.

“That plan fizzled, and in 2017 a different development firm proposed a seven-story building with 24 units. That plan also failed to move forward.

“In March, city officials made two related moves on the property, at 6740 S. South Shore Drive, across the street from the South Shore Cultural Center’s golf course.

“On March 16, the city’s law department began foreclosure proceedings against the owner, citing code violations. Then on March 29, when the owner submitted a demolition application, the planning and development department put it on the 90-day delay list for review of potential historical or architectural value.

“Empty for an unknown number of years, the house is on about three-tenths of an acre, built in the early decades of the 20th century, when the cultural center was the South Shore Country Club, a golf and socializing playground for an elite crowd. Little is known about the architect, Roy Stott, other than that he designed homes and a town hall in Evergreen Park and a church in Barrington.

“At some point, Harold and Edith Meitus became the home’s owners. Harold Meitus was a business innovator, reportedly the first manufacturer of cigarette matchbooks to sell ad space on them.

“Old newspaper articles put the couple at this address as early as 1960. They later donated the house to the Akiba South Side Jewish Day School, which in a later merger became Akiba-Schechter, in Hyde Park. The boxy brick school building that Akiba built on the site is still standing and was also part of the past demolition plans.

“The development firm that pitched the 30-story and then 19-story projects paid $3.45 million for the site in 2006, according to the Cook County clerk. Public records do not indicate that the next developer to pitch the site ever purchased it.

“In 2019, the present owner, a legal entity headed by Orland Park real estate agent Naser Odeh, bought the property for $650,000 from an arm of PNC Bank, which had taken the property back from the $3.45 million purchaser.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 4/18/23)

Since being added to the 90-Day Demolition Delay in late March, Preservation Chicago has been working with urgency to advocate for the building. We have conducted historic research, outreached to community partners, contacted elected and city officials, and are working towards a preservation-oriented alternative that could spare 6740 S. South Shore Drive from the wrecking ball.

The foreclosure proceedings and building code violations suggest that the owner is seeking to demolish the historic building in an effort reduce holding costs while land banking this large parcel with potential for a tall building with lake views.

Preservation Chicago strongly opposes demolition of historic structures for land banking. We have long advocated for the City of Chicago to issue demolition permits simultaneously with construction permits.

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