WIN: Class L Approved for LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse Restaurant Redevelopment

LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse, 1887, North Chicago Street Railroad Company, 500 N. LaSalle St. Designated a Chicago Landmark: June 27, 2001. Photo credit: Preservation Chicago

“One of England’s most popular restaurants, rated No. 1 on a world’s best steakhouse list, is coming to Chicago.

“Hawksmoor, which opened its first U.S. location in New York in 2021, has targeted Chicago for its next U.S. opening in early 2024. Co-founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott debuted Hawksmoor in 2006 in London and now have eight other restaurants in that city. Hawksmoor is ranked on top of the “World’s 101 Best Steak Restaurants” list, published by Upper Cut Media House based in the U.K.

“After its U.S. debut, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells asked, “Does New York need a British steakhouse? Yes, if it’s Hawksmoor.”

“Beckett and Gott have leased the LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse, a 16,500-square-foot, three-floor building at 500 N. LaSalle St. that formerly housed Gino’s East and Michael Jordan’s Restaurant. The pair plans to restore the designated landmark that dates back to 1887.

“There will be a big focus on the bar, as Hawksmoor has twice been awarded “best international restaurant bar” at the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards. The restaurant will have 220 seats across the three floors and a 150-bottle wine list; the bar will have a separate menu.

“‘Chicago is one of the great cities of America,’ Beckett said. ‘We love the restaurant scene here, and we feel inspired by the beef history. We love the building. We love bringing beautiful old buildings back to life, and this old cable car powerhouse is one such building.’

“‘Great hospitality cities are driven by passion and a desire to look after people,’ Beckett said. ‘Those two things exist in spades in Chicago, a city we associate with artisanship and hospitality. We’re trying to build a world-class restaurant, and to make it a place where people can come enjoy what we do and feel comfortable and happy when they dine with us.’ (Bendersky, Crain’s Chicago Business, 3/23/23)

“The LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse is a rare surviving artifact of Chicago’s cable car system, which at its peak in the 1890s was the largest in the country, operating thousands of cable cars over 82 miles of track. The powerhouse was built by the North Chicago Street Railroad Company organized by Charles Tyson Yerkes, the leading transit entrepreneur in Chicago during the late 19th century. At the height of his influence, Yerkes controlled eight separate street railway companies and 250 miles of track in the city.

“The powerhouse was constructed to house engines that moved two miles of cable through channels laid in streets on the Near North Side and in the Loop business district. Those cables, in turn, pulled the thousands of cable cars that, at the peak of their operation, brought approximately 100,000 workers into downtown Chicago each day. The LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse helped make possible the rapid development of the city’s outlying North Side neighborhoods during one of the greatest boom periods in the history of Chicago.” (City of Chicago Landmarks Division)

“Tax incentives have been approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks for the redevelopment of the LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse at 500 N LaSalle Drive in River North. Located on the northwest corner with W Illinois Street adjacent to the recently completed 448 N LaSalle office building, the structure will once again become a restaurant from an overseas operator. London-based Hawksmoor will convert the space into a new steakhouse with an undisclosed designer.

“The Class-L Property Tax Incentive itself will last for 12-years and facilitate the restaurant’s construction; with this their building assessments are reduced to 10-percent for the first 10-years, 15-percent for year 11, and 20-percent in year 12. As the restaurant prepares to commence construction on the property, no further information has been made public on the design but we can expect an opening in the first half of 2024.” (Achong, Chicago YIMBY, 6/9/23)

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