THREATENED: Preservationists Sound Alarm Over Rapid Deterioration of Lake Street Schlitz Tied House

“The former home of La Luce Italian restaurant, which gained landmark status last year, has severely deteriorated in recent months, preservationists said.
“Residents and preservationists fought hard to save the building and get it landmark status, which was granted in June 2021. But the former Schlitz Brewery tied house at 1393-1399 W. Lake St. is missing some of its copper-clad siding and has been defaced with spray paint. Up until recently, it was unsecured and people could roam freely inside the gutted building, which had holes in the floor.
Lake Street Schlitz-Brewery Tied House / formerly La Lucé restaurant, 1892, 1393-1399 W. Lake Street in March 2021. Photo Credit: Ward Miller / Preservation Chicago
“Veritas LLC, co-owned by Anthony Giannini and Steven DeGraff, bought the building with the intention of razing it, their zoning attorney previously told the landmark commission. The building has sat vacant since it received landmark status.
“Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, said he’s called the city, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr (27th) and an attorney representing Veritas LLC in an effort to get the damaged fixed.
“Because of those calls, inspectors from the city’s buildings department visited the property to see if repairs were being made in line with the city’s building code, according to a statement from the department Friday.
“‘After [Department of Building] inspectors visited the building, they referred the case to the Department of Law. The Department of Law is reviewing the complaint. A case has not yet been filed,’ according to the city.
Lake Street Schlitz-Brewery Tied House / formerly La Lucé restaurant, 1892, 1393-1399 W. Lake Street after neglect and vandalism on September 1, 2022. Photo Credit: Alex Krikhaar
“Ward said it’s the second time he’s had to reach out regarding the building’s condition. In March, he alerted the city the door had been left open and unsecured.
“‘Six months later and it’s only gotten worse,’ Miller said.
“‘It’s my personal opinion is if this owner or developer can’t clean up this terrible mess and restore a landmark building, perhaps they should be considered banned from doing business in Chicago in the future,’ Ward said.
“According to the property’s landmark designation report, the protected features of the building include all exterior elevations, including the rooflines.
“Landmark buildings must be up to the city’s building code, but there is no upkeep requirement listed in city’s landmarks ordinance. (Mercado, Block Club Chicago, 9/19/22)
Board-up in progress at landmarked former La Luce, September 6, 3:20 pm. Photo credit: Lynn Becker tweet @LynnBecker
Preservation Chicago has long advocated for the building’s preservation and will continue to advocate for it until its in a safe place. Schlitz-Brewery Tied House / formerly La Lucé restaurant became a Chicago Landmark in July 2021 after a rapid response Preservation Chicago advocacy effort to when its owner attempted to demolish it. Dating from 1892, this Queen Anne Victorian building is, according to Maurice Cox, Commissioner of Planning and Development, at the landmark hearing, a ‘rare asset.”

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