Reinvestment in Chicago’s Historic Landmark Motor Row District continues to gain momentum. The six-story industrial loft Cadillac Warehouse Building, later known as a Chevrolet dealership, at 2300 S. Indiana Avenue is being renovated into a 200-room boutique hotel to serve convention attendees at the nearby McCormick Place. The hotel will be a dual-brand Studio 6/Motel 6, and include a 79-room Motel 6 with 121 extended-stay suites. NORR Architects is the project architect.
Built for the Cadillac Motor Car Company in 1919, the building was designed by notable Detroit architect Albert Kahn. Kahn was prolific and designed many Detroit landmark buildings. Kahn worked on more than 1,000 commissions from Henry Ford and hundreds more for other automakers. Over 60 Kahn-designed buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Albert Kahn is one of America’s legendary architects and especially notable are his works of reinforced concrete structures.
As a contributing building in the Motor Row District , the redevelopment plans must comply with historic standards and will be subject to Commission on Chicago Landmarks review, approval and oversight. The development will restore the deteriorated masonry facade and install new windows designed to resemble the originals. A new interior light well will be punched through the center of the building to bring light and air to interior guest rooms.
This represents another significant redevelopment in the Motor Row District since it was designated a Chicago Landmark District in December 2000. The district includes 55 buildings along South Michigan Avenue, South Indiana Avenue and South Wabash Avenue. This collection of commercial buildings on Chicago’s Near South Side is considered to be the largest, intact early “automobile row” in the country. At its peak, as many as 116 different makes of automobiles were being sold on Motor Row including Ford, Buick, Fiat, Cadillac, Hudson, Locomobile, Marmon and Pierce-Arrow.
The range of buildings in Motor Row illustrates the evolution of the automobile showroom and related product and service buildings, from simple two-story structures used for display and offices to multi-story buildings housing a variety of departments for the repair, storage, painting and finishing of automobiles. Many of these buildings were designed by significant architects, including Holabird & Roche, Alfred Alschuler, Christian Eckstorm, Philip Maher and Albert Kahn.
“Motor Row includes a building designed by Albert Kahn (1869-1942), who is acknowledged to be one of the nation’s most influential industrial architects of the early-20th century. The Cadillac Warehouse Building at 2300 S. Indiana Avenue from 1919 is the only remaining intact industrial building designed by Kahn in Chicago.
“A native of Germany, Kahn emigrated to Detroit, Ml, with his family in the 1880s. In 1893, he was appointed chief designer for the firm of Mason & Rice, and in 1896 he established his own practice. By the late 1930s Kahn’s firm had a staff of over 600 people, which reportedly was responsible for nearly 20% of the nation’s architect-designed industrial buildings during the period.
“Kahn’s early work was noted for its pioneering use of reinforced concrete, which he first employed in 1903 for a new manufacturing complex for the Packard Motor Car Co. in Detroit. Kahn recognized that reinforced concrete, due to its low cost, speed of construction, strength, and resistance to fire, was well suited to the automotive industry. His subsequent designs for other factory buildings are widely regarded as important influences on modern architecture.
“Kahn designed an impressive three-story auto showroom for Packard in 1919 at the northeast corner of 24th Street and Michigan Avenue. Unfortunately, that building was demolished for construction of the Stevenson Expressway.” (Motor Row Nomination Report for National Register of Historic Places, March 1992
One of the first significant reinvestments was in December 2015 when Richard H. Driehaus purchased the historic former Marmon Motor Car Company Building located at 2232 S. Michigan Avenue to showcase his extensive historic car collection. Preservation Chicago applauds him for his commitment to this Chicago Landmark District. The 38,800-square-foot, Spanish-Revival building was also designed by architect Alfred Alschuler in 1922 and is immediately adjacent to the Hudson Motor Building.
Motel 6 planned next to McCormick Place, The project would infuse the area around the convention center with another hospitality option after two big hotels opened there each of the past two years, Danny Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Hotel, April 2, 2019
Historic Motor Row building designed by Albert Kahn tapped for hotel conversion, The project would bring a new extended stay option to Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, April 4, 2019
Motor Row Nomination Report for National Register of Historic Places, March 1992, pages 11 & 12