“From its creation in 1923, the Belden-Stratford apartment building in Chicago’s Lincoln Park community was designed for an elite crowd. Over the years, its status slipped. But now, courtesy of a top-to-bottom renovation backed by billionaire Joe Mansueto, it soon will have a new introduction in high society.
“Mansueto’s investment firm, Mansueto Office, acquired it in late 2018, paying $106 million. The renovation began in earnest last year, and the plan is to have new tenants arrive beginning in January. Rents start around $3,000 a month for a studio and go up to almost $8,000 for three bedrooms.
“The makeover gives the building 209 units, compared with up to 650 units it had in its hotel days. Ari Glass, head of real estate at Mansueto Office, said the work restores the original distinction of a beaux-arts design that mimicked the palaces of France’s Louis XIV. The architect was Meyer Fridstein, whose other works include Chicago’s Congress Theater and Shoreland Hotel, now a rental building in Hyde Park.
“The restoration also brings in amenities for today’s tastes. A ballroom has been converted into a fitness center. Residents will get a wine-tasting space, a lounge with billiards and a rooftop sundeck. An on-call Tesla rental service is due when you need wheels to show off.
“Glass declined to disclose how much Mansueto, founder and executive chairman of investment research firm Morningstar, is paying for the work. On that point, Krikhaar added, ‘It’s more than most developers would spend on a project like this because of his love for this building.’ Glass said Mansueto lived in the building during the 1980s; he’s still in the neighborhood, in a well-known modern mansion, but he likes the old styles, too.
“Mansueto owns the Wrigley Building, which he carefully restored, and the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. He also owns the Chicago Fire and a speculative industrial site that’s trying to bring jobs to West Humboldt Park. He was an investor in the Chicago Sun-Times, and the newspaper receives funding from the Mansueto Foundation.
“He provided this statement about the Belden-Stratford: ‘As a former resident, my desire to invest in this property came from my personal love of this city, neighborhood and preserving great architecture. So returning The Belden to its former glory was an easy decision — especially as the building approaches its 100th anniversary. It’s wonderful to preserve an iconic building for many generations to come.'” (Roeder, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/7/22)
Preservation Chicago had worked for years with preservation partners to generate support for a Lincoln Park West Chicago Landmark District to protect the Belden-Stratford and other historic buildings from Lincoln Park’s intense development pressure. We are thrilled that the buyer of the Belden-Stratford so deeply values the building’s history and we applaud Joe Mansueto for his commitment to beautifully restoring this important Chicago building. Additionally, we encourage ownership to pursue a Chicago Landmark designation to fully recognize, celebrate and protect the Belden-Stratford for decades to come.