WIN: Schulze Bakery to be Adaptively Reused as Data Center

Schulze Baking Company Building, 40 E. Garfield Boulevard, by John Ahlschlager & Son in 1914, Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Schulze Baking Company Building, 40 E. Garfield Boulevard, by John Ahlschlager & Son in 1914, Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Vacant and suffering deferred maintenance since 2004, the Schulze Baking Company building will be renovated and adaptively reused as a data center. Located at 40 E. Garfield Boulevard (55th Street) in Washington Park, this architecturally exuberant building was designed by Chicago architect John Ahlschlager & Son in 1914.

This announcement was received with great enthusiasm by the Chicago preservation community. Despite being of landmark quality, the Schulze Baking Company building was never designated as a Chicago Landmark. While it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, a National Register of Historic Places listing does nothing to prevent demolition.

The Schulze Baking Company building is a beautifully designed industrial building and was thoroughly modern for its time. Its design is highlighted by a combination of its strong classical form, extensive geometric patterns and detail in the white glazed brick, vivid blue terra cotta, and exuberant Sullivanesque-inspired terra cotta ornamentation with wheat shafts, corn, and other grains.

The 220,000-square-foot site Schulze property was sold to CIM for $7.5 million. CIM Group is a large real estate development firm, with projects including Block 37 and the Tribune Tower redevelopment. As reported in Crain’s, the century-old building, called Midway Technology Center, will require a major rehab that could total $150 million to become a data center, including a new roof and bringing in additional power required for racks of electricity-thirsty servers. The partners have decided against pursuing tax breaks associated with historic landmarks, but they plan to restore the building’s distinctive facade. The facility is located in a state-designated enterprise zone, which could provide some sales-tax incentives. (Pletz, Crain’s, 7/31/18)

Preservation Chicago applauds the development team for their plans to restore the historic Schulze Baking Company Building and encourages them to pursue a Chicago Landmark Designation.

Additional Reading
Long-awaited South Side data center project gets money to move ahead, John Pletz, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/31/18

CIM Group leading South Side data center project in historic former factory; the LA developer is partnering with a New Jersey firm on the plan to convert a historic former baking plant, John O’Brian, The Real Deal, 8/1/18

The Legacy of Schulze Baking Company, Part 1, John Morris, Chicago Patterns, 5/16/13

The Legacy of Schulze Baking Company, Part 2, John Morris, Chicago Patterns, 6/2/13

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