THREATENED: Court Spokesperson Denies Judges’ Desire for Lake Views as Motivation for Demolition of Century and Consumers Buildings (Chicago 7 2011, 2013, 2022 & 2023)

Court spokesman denies judges’ desire for lake views as motivation for demolition of Century and Consumers Buildings, however, its does appear that the demolition of the Consumers Buildings would improve lake views from the Dirksen Courthouse Building. Image credit Google Earth with notations by Preservation Chicago

“Chicago residents spoke out against tearing down the Century Building at 202 S. State St. and the Consumers Building at 220 S. State St. at a public meeting today at the Metcalfe Federal Building.

“The federal General Services Administration, which owns the buildings, is considering demolishing the two buildings and a smaller one at 214 S. State St.

“‘There have been no decisions made on the disposition of these buildings,’ Angel Dizon, GSA regional commissioner for the Great Lakes region, said during the meeting. ‘I just want to make sure I put that out there right away that we are going through this process to determine what might be the best solution, and I’ll say that us working collectively is much better than any one of us working in isolation.’

“Federal officials have warned that the aging buildings could pose a security threat to the nearby Dirksen federal courthouse building according to Rebecca Pallmeyer, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

“‘Our motivation is not demolition for the sake of lake views or convenience,’ she said. ‘Our concern really is for the safety of the employees and community.’

“All of the public comments during the hearing were in opposition to the demolition, citing economic harm and how the removal of the buildings would cause more vacancies on State Street.

“Ann Morse, who identified herself as a 35-year resident of Chicago, argued that the demolition would put a ‘hole in the mouth of State Street’ and asked that at least one building be saved as an ‘anchor of the streetscape.’

Preservation groups Landmarks Illinois and Preservation Chicago have recommended new uses for the buildings or designating them as landmarks to halt the demolition.

Joe Antunovich, who spoke over Zoom, detailed his role as part of a team that looked at the feasibility of the adaptive reuse of the building.

“These three buildings that are being discussed today, in addition to 25,000 additional square feet of retail on the ground floor to renovate and to bring back these buildings, etc., is exactly what our city is craving and what the Loop needs to bring people back into the heart of activity,” said Antunovich, who argued against demolition. (Jay, Crain’s Chicago Business, 9/12/23)

“Ward Miller, a leader in the effort to prevent demolition, told Crain’s he believes the [GSA Draft Report] is ‘a farce.’ Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, said that the report seems to “move the needle slightly’ toward saving the buildings but that it was another piece of ‘a railroaded process that has disappointed us all.”

“Miller said the government has “been doing the do-nothing alternative for 17 years” since acquiring the buildings. “It’s demolition by neglect,” Miller said.

“Today Miller said the two distinguished century-old towers, Century and Consumers, which both have architectural pedigrees, ‘are being treated the same way’ as the now-demolished building that stood between them.

“In its report, the GSA includes a list of 15 stipulations it would attach to any adaptive reuse project for the two buildings.

“In May 2022, a group of archives proposed turning the pair of buildings into a large-scale joint research archive of the records of religious orders and other historical groups. Because it would have limited visitor access and could entail closing off all windows that face the Dirksen, it appeared to meet the security requirements.” (Rodkin, Crains, 9/12/23

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

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