WIN: Chicago Landmark W.M. Hoyt Building Adaptive Reuse Moving Forward

W.M. Hoyt Building, 1909, Nimmons & Fellows, 465 W. Cermak Road. Designated a Chicago Landmark as part of the Cermak Road Bridge District in 2003. Rendering credit: Space Architects / Windfall Group

“A long-delayed effort to restore a vacant Chinatown landmark may finally get underway next year.

“The Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday recommended approving a special property tax incentive for the former W.M. Hoyt Building at 465 W. Cermak Road, along the South Branch of the Chicago River. Developer Windfall Group plans to transform the hulking warehouse into Pacifica of Chicago, a four-star hotel with offices, a grocery, restaurants, a medical center, a spa, ground-level retail and a public riverwalk.

“‘The Hoyt Building has been vacant for decades,” said Windfall Group CEO Eddie Ni, but in the future, it will serve as a gateway to both Chinatown and Pilsen.’

“Historic preservationists applauded Windfall’s proposal and said the former wholesale grocery warehouse, designed in the Prairie-style by Nimmons & Fellows and completed in 1909, represents a time when even industrial properties included artistic flourishes.

“‘We’ve had many false starts on this site over the last decade or more, Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, said. But this can be a transformative project that not only ensures the reuse of a wonderful building, one that honors the era’s frequently forward-looking architecture, it can also show the city and many others how industrial buildings are significant and shouldn’t be demolished and replaced by bland shopping centers.

“Chicago developer R2 in 2015 proposed transforming the five-story, 300,000-square-foot structure, part of the landmark Cermak Road Bridge District, into an office development, but that and several other potential deals eventually fell through. It’s been disappointing, according to landmarks commission member Alicia Ponce, who recalled at last month’s meeting how this summer she found herself staring up at the Hoyt Building while kayaking down the river.

“‘I’ve loved this building for such a long time, she said. I’ve always wondered, when is someone going to do something?

“Chicago’s Chinatown is actually one of the few Chinatowns in the U.S. that is still growing,” she said. “But we also want to be a destination for a lot of people from outside Chicago as well.”

“Windfall wants to break ground by 2024, although its proposal still needs final approvals from the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council. The developer will also need additional approvals from the landmarks commission for its plans to renovate or replace portions of the exterior’s historic limestone and terra cotta details.

“Miller told commission members the project shows how important it is to establish landmark districts such as the Cermak Road Bridge District, which was created in 2006 and includes several other warehouses across the river in East Pilsen.

“‘Thank you most of all for making this a landmark district, having the faith that this would one day, even if it was more than a decade later, have a transformational effect on a neighborhood, he said. ‘We see the power of landmarks here.’ (Rogal, Chicago Tribune, 9/7/23)

Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune

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