Briefly: Bridges, Blurbs, Beerville

Wrigley Building

  • The Wrigley Building (400 North Michigan Avenue) has been named a Chicago Landmark.  See Alderman Reilly’s announcement below.
  • Not a new web site, but it’s new to us.  Check out Chicago Loop Bridges for lots of interesting information and pictures of… Chicago Loop bridges.
  • Here’s your Grant Park history lesson of the day, from the Chicago Tribune.
  • ENR Midwest has neighbor news: Milwaukee has the green light to build its streetcar system.  Phase one: Connecting the Amtrak station with downtown.

Alderman Reilly’s statement on the Wrigley Building:

Believe it or not, the Wrigley Building was not a landmark! Despite its appearance in souvenir snow globes throughout shops downtown and a very specific mention in the song, “My Kind of Town”, the Wrigley Building never underwent landmarking to secure its future within the Chicago landscape. However, with the recent change in ownership, Alderman Reilly realized an opportunity to assist a building owner in securing historic tax credits while ensuring this treasured structure will be maintained for generations to come.

Last Thursday at the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, Alderman Reilly gave his enthusiastic support to designate the Wrigley Building as a historic landmark in addition to the new ownership’s Class L application, historic tax credits which will help finance the renovation and upgrade of this important building.

This architectural gem was designed in two phases between 1921 and 1924 by the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White using the shape of the Giralda tower of Seville’s Cathedral combined with French Renaissance details. The building was the longtime headquarters for the Wrigley Company, the largest producer of chewing gum in the world and a world-famous Chicago company.

The 425-foot south tower was completed in April 1921 and the north tower was completed in May 1924. Walkways between the towers were added at the ground level and the third floor. In 1931, another walkway was added at the fourteenth floor to connect to offices of a bank in accordance with a Chicago statute at the time concerning bank branch offices. The building is a celebrated iconic structure with an impressive Neo-Classical white terra cotta exterior, soaring clock tower and prominent location where North Michigan Avenue crosses the Chicago River. There are few more grandiose examples of this 1920’s terra cotta ornamentation in the United States.

Class L tax credits will help revitalize this new landmark. This property tax incentive encourages the preservation and rehabilitation of landmark commercial, industrial as well as income-producing non-for-profit buildings. Owners can have their property tax assessment levels reduced for a 12-year period provided they invest at least half of the value of the landmark building in an approved rehabilitation project. While the Class L incentive is a Cook County incentive program, the City of Chicago and the local ward alderman must support granting the incentive.

New ownership purchased the Wrigley Building in September 2011, with all of its financial challenges. The building is currently less than 60% occupied with retail space that is also substantially vacant and difficult to lease in its present condition. To breathe new life into this important structure, the owners requested Alderman Reilly’s support for landmark status for local designation concurrent with a Class L application. In addition, the building owners are also applying for Federal Historic Tax Credits.

A full exterior and interior rehabilitation of the building will take place in phases. Plans include an upgrade to a B+ office building with retail at the main level (upper Michigan Ave.), lower level (lower Michigan Ave., Water Street and Rush Street), and second level. Restoration of previously removed terra-cotta columns, new retail entrances, removal of breezeway infill at the bridge connecting the north and south towers, lobby renovations, base building upgrades at retail and office floors and mechanical/electrical/life safety improvements are also planned.

More specifically:

Phase I will include the Class L application. Ownership is investing $46,898,997 (including $11,000,000 acquisition cost), with $26,530,144 in Class L eligible expenses.

Class L work includes restoration/repair of terra-cotta at south elevation of the north tower and at the bridge between the towers, retail storefront/entry modifications, lobby and other interior renovations, partial sprinklering of building, HVAC, plumbing and electrical system upgrades.

Alderman Reilly is also pleased to report that all reasonable efforts will be made toward achieving the highest possible level of LEED certification for this project.

Author: Editor

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

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