Thanks to the earlier landmark district designation, any additions to this historic row required approval from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Due to this protection, public objection to the tower proposal and advocacy by Landmarks Illinois, which included producing a rendering of the streetwall by LI Board Member Joe Antunovich to demonstrate the impact multiple towers and rooftop additions could have upon the district, the dangerous proposal never came to fruition.
In 2012, AJ Capital Partners acquired the Chicago Athletic Association and undertook an exhaustive three-year redevelopment effort, breathing new life into this gem. The Chicago Athletic Association is now a 241-room, boutique hotel with multiple and unrivaled restaurants, bars and event spaces. Painstaking care was taken to ensure the iconic building was restored using only the best craftsmen available while new interior architecture has been seamlessly integrated with some of the finest historic finishes in the Midwest. The project utilized the Federal Historic Tax Credit as well as local preservation incentives offered in Chicago.
The Michigan Avenue Streetwall historic district as a whole exemplifies some of the best practices in preservation planning. It features numerous conversions of former office buildings into residential and institutional use, the successful use of historic tax incentives for the rehabilitation of dozens of buildings and the careful integration of new construction. Design guidelines for the district have been drafted with input from Landmarks Illinois, property owners and design professionals, while the City of Chicago has invested millions of dollars in the district new public infrastructure, including historic streetlamps and signage. Millennium Park, located on the northern end of the historic streetwall, across from its east side, is one of the highest visited tourist attractions in Chicago, ensuring that millions of people are able to see and enjoy the irreplaceable architecture of Chicago’s most famous boulevard.
(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)