THREATENED: Happy Wash Terra Cotta Building To Be Demolished for New Development

Happy Wash Building, 1359 W. Wilson Ave. Photo credit: Martin Tangora
Proposed new construction at 1359 W. Wilson Ave. Rending credit: Axios Architects and Consultants

“The city has signed off on a developer’s plan to replace a Wilson Avenue retail building with an apartment complex, the third time a developer has tried to build on the site.

“The Zoning Board of Appeals on Friday approved plans to replace the single-story retail strip at 1359 W. Wilson Ave. with a 28-unit apartment building. With the vote, the project has final approval after years of developers eyeing the property.

“Plans call for a five-story building to be erected at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Dover Street. There will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units and a first-floor parking garage with 25 parking spots and 18 bike racks.

The project did not need a rezoning, but developers Ayman Khalil and Kareem Musawwir sought zoning variances to build closer to the property lines and increase the maximum height allowed from 60 feet to 66 feet, records show. The Zoning Board of Appeals approved those variances Friday.

“Because the project did not need a rezoning, it will not be required to include affordable units. The city’s affordability requirement only kicks in when a rezoning is required, if it was a former city-owned lot or if the project gets financial support from the city.

“The existing building at 1359 W. Wilson Ave. — known to neighbors as the Happy Wash building — is home to The Mukase African Restaurant.” (Ward, Block Club Chicago, 4/26/23)

Preservation Chicago and community preservation partners strongly oppose the demolition of the ornate terra cotta building at 1359 W. Wilson Ave. In return for the zoning approval, the developer should have been required to retain and incorporate the historic one-story terra cotta façade into the new construction.

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