WIN: Grace’s Furniture Building Hotel Conversion Approved By Zoning Committee

Proposed Grace’s Furniture Building Boutique Hotel Roof Deck, 2618 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Rendering Credit NORR Architects

After sitting vacant for many years, the proposal to adaptively reuse the Grace’s Furniture Building located at 2618 N. Milwaukee Avenue as a boutique hotel is moving forward. This building was included in the Logan Square Boulevard District Boundaries in 2005 to ensure a preservation-sensitive reuse of this building overlooking this important public square.

The development team has changed over time and now Marc Realty is partnering with Blue Star Properties. Architects are Chicago-based Bureau AD in collaboration with NORR Architects.
In addition to the hotel use, the plans call for a rooftop deck overlooking the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square, a fifth-floor event space, and a pair of ground-floor restaurants. The 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 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 billboards 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 Heir, Lew Coulson, Bruce Anderson and others advocated for many years to protect this historic building and have been involved in ongoing redevelopment conversations, which has contributed to the current preservation-oriented redevelopment proposal.

One reason that this development is proceeding smoothly is that as part of the 35th Ward Community-Driven Zoning and Development process, 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa sends development projects to community organizations including Logan Square Preservation for vetting and constructive feedback.

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 in 1970. This is an example reflecting the Mies van der Rohe courtyard building studies.

Additional Reading
Congress Theater Overhaul, Grace’s Furniture Hotel Both Approved By Zoning Committee; The projects cleared the last significant regulatory hurdle they’ll face. Mina Bloom, Block Club Chicago, 1/18/19

Logan Square hotel plan revealed ahead of community meeting, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 5/30/18

Logan Square’s New Boutique Hotel Will Incorporate Vintage Grace’s Furniture Sign, Mina Bloom, Block Club Chicago, 5/21/18)

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