THREATENED: Final Advocacy Push as Meitus House at 6740 S. South Shore Drive Nears End of 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 2023, 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.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 4/18/23)

6740 S. South Shore Drive was built for Hyman S. (H.S.) Flaxman in 1927 and designed by architect Roy Walter Stott.

Harold Meitus, his wife Edith, and their three children lived at 6740 S. South Shore Drive in the 1950s. He served as the vice president and a trustee of the Rodfei Zedek synagogue in Hyde Park. Meitus was the founder and president of Superior Match Company where he pioneered the idea of using matchbook covers as a miniature billboard for advertisers. Promotional matchbooks used in hotels, restaurants, resorts and all types of businesses throughout Chicago. Several other matchbook businesses were acquired over time giving Superior Match Company access to clients across the county.

With his financial success, Mr. Meitus and the Meitus Family became prominent philanthropists. After relocated to the Near North Side in 1968, Mr. Meitus donated his property and home to the Akiba Jewish Day School. He financially supported the construction of the school building on the southern half of the property, and continued to provide ongoing support for school operations. When the school eventually closed due to dwindling enrollment, Meitus supported the transition of the buildings into a school for children with special needs. This provided essential services for children that needed support beyond what Chicago Public Schools could provide at that time.

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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