THREATENED: Developer Chooses Demolition Over Adaptive Reuse for Werner Bros. Storage Building

“A $30 million, six-story affordable apartment building could replace a retail strip and storage facility at a prominent Howard Street intersection under a development proposal.
“Development group Housing For All wants to build 110 affordable apartments and ground-floor retail at the northeast corner of Howard and Paulina streets, directly across from the Red Line, according to plans shared by Ald. Maria Hadden’s 49th Ward office.

Werner Brothers Storage Building, 1921, George S. Kingsley, 7613 N Paulina Street. Orange Rated. Photo Credit: Debbie Mercer
“The project would move forward in two phases and require state and likely city funding, said Shelly Tucciarelli, a developer with Housing For All.
“The six-story development would replace a single-story retail strip at 1646-1660 W. Howard St. that holds a currency exchange, Post Office and Redz Belizean Restaurant.
“The project will also require the demolition of the Werner Bros. Storage building, a warehouse at 7613 N. Paulina St. designed by architect George S. Kinglsey and built in 1921. The building is listed as ‘orange-rated’ in the city’s historical survey, requiring a review of the building and development plans before a demolition permit is approved.

Werner Brothers Storage Building, 1921, George S. Kingsley, 7613 N Paulina Street. Orange Rated. Photo Credit: Google Maps
“The Werner building can’t be redeveloped into housing because some of the floors do not meet ceiling height requirements for housing units, Tucciarelli said. The warehouse is mostly vacant.
“The development would move forward in two phases, with the first phase replacing the Howard Street retail building followed by a building on the Werner Bros. site. There would be 55 apartments built in the first phase.
“Tucciarelli is a longtime developer who is helping build affordable housing catering to Indigenous people at a site in Irving Park. She also spent 20 years working at the Illinois Housing Development Authority, where she managed the low-income housing tax credit program, she said.
“Housing For All is building a 47-unit affordable housing development in suburban Aurora that will adaptively reuse two historical schools. One of the property owners involved in that project also owns the Rogers Park parcels at Howard and Paulina streets, Tucciarelli said. (Ward, Block Club Chicago, 10/25/22)
Phase 1 of Proposed Development adjacent to Werner Brothers Storage. Rendering Credit: Cordogan Clark & Associates
Affordability and preservation are strongly symbiotic and mutually beneficial. The Werner Brothers Storage Building is an ideal candidate for affordable housing adaptive reuse. Preservation Chicago strongly encourages the developer to pursue this option as they have successfully done in Aurora. Additionally, we encourage 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden and community members to make historic preservation a requirement of this redevelopment.
Phase 2 of Proposed Development including to Werner Brothers Storage. Rendering Credit: Cordogan Clark & Associates
Low income housing tax credits and the 20% Federal Tax Credit for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties work well together and can generate significant additional development funding. Historic preservation tax credits could generate 20% additional funds for development expenses within the historic building. Millions of additional development dollars could be used to build additional affordable units on site. Additional affordable units, perhaps as many as eight or ten, would be widely celebrated and historic tax credits are the key to unlocking the funding for them.

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