After sitting vacant for many years, there is a redevelopment proposal for the former Grace’s Furniture Building located at 2618 N. Milwaukee Avenue to be adaptively reused as a 44-room boutique hotel. This building was included in the Logan Square Boulevards District boundaries in 2005 to ensure a preservation-sensitive reuse of this building which overlooks Logan Square. It also requires review and oversight by the Commission of Chicago Landmarks. The developers are Marc Realty and LG Development with hotel operator Holiday Jones. Architects are Chicago-based Bureau AD in collaboration with NORR Architects.
In addition to the hotel use, the preliminary plans call for a rooftop deck overlooking the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square and a pair of ground floor restaurants. The preliminary development rendering includes retaining the iconic Grace’s Furniture neon blade sign and restoring the ivory-colored terra cotta along the first-floor storefront that has been largely hidden behind plywood and scaffolding.
Additionally, many new windows are proposed to be added to the south elevation of the building overlooking the boulevard and Logan Square. The solid brick wall formerly backed up to another building, but was revealed after that historic building was demolished to make way for the entrance to the Blue Line subway expansion in the late 1960s. This windowless brick wall has been the source of significant controversy as community activists worked for over a decade to prevent it from being used for billboards and to prevent them from returning. This resulted in a protracted lawsuit and multiple hearings before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and other city commissions.
Logan Square Preservation, Preservation Chicago, and neighbors including Andrew Schneider, Patricia Lauber, Steve Hier, Lew Coulson, Bruce Anderson and others advocated for many years to protect this historic building and have been involved in on-going redevelopment conversations, which has contributed to the current preservation-oriented redevelopment proposal.
Preservation Chicago supports this development plan and encourages the City and developer to respect, retain, and even consider restoring the “L” station canopy entry and English cross bond brick wall designed by Myron Goldsmith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) in 1970. This is an example reflecting the Mies van der Rohe courtyard building studies, which were part of Mies’ curriculum at IIT.