Historic Building May Find New Life With The Dead

Just got an alert from Alderman Reilly’s office about the Three Arts Club building (1300 North Dearborn Street).  This beautiful, historic building has been vacant for years.  Now it may get new life.  So to speak.

Mr. Bill Bickford of Depree Bickford Associates, LLC and his partners have signed a letter of intent to purchase the historic property and expect to close by the end of 2009.  Mr. Bickford’s team is proposing to redevelop the ThreeArtsBuilding into a “columbarium” – a facility that houses vaults that are used to store urns containing human ashes.

The Holabird & Roche building located at 1300 N. Dearborn occupies an important site in the Gold Coast.  Alderman Reilly will carefully consider community concerns regarding landmark preservation, traffic congestion, loading and the intensity of use as this project moves through his deliberative public process.  It is important to note that any potential new use occupying this historic property is limited due to the building’s status as a Chicago Landmark.  The Three Arts Club’s landmark status not only protects the building’s exterior but also its height, massing and elements of the interior public spaces.

In coming weeks, Alderman Reilly plans to meet with Mr. Bickford to review the developer’s conceptual plans and discuss details related to interior design changes, programming and the facility in general.  During that meeting, the Alderman will inform the developer of his expectations for the upcoming community process that will be used to foster full public review and open dialogue regarding their proposal.

In the next month – once the City Council concludes its deliberations over the proposed 2010 City Budget – Alderman Reilly will invite neighborhood residents, representatives and local stakeholders to join him and the developer’s team at a community meeting to review all aspects of the columbarium proposal and offer their feedback and input.

While not exactly the development we’d hoped for, this kind of use is better than leaving it abandoned.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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