If you're part of our Twitter or Facebook feeds, then you were among the first to know that this past week the Chicago Plan Commission approved McHugh Construction's plan to build a new hotel, data center, and retail space at 111 East Cermak Road in the South Loop.
Chicago Architecture Blog reporter reporter Mary Chmielewicz live-tweeted the Commission's decision which will see an Antunovich Associates-designed 25-story tower rise on the southwest corner of and Cermak and Indiana. The data center will be immediately south of the hotel, along Indiana Avenue, followed by the existing two-story Rambler Building, which will be rehabilitated. The four-story Bird-Sykes Building at 2215 South Michigan Avenue will also be fixed up.
The remaining land, which is most of the space being used, is currently a pair of surface parking lots. So, no harm done. This used to be the location of McHugh Construction's head office before it moved a few blocks away, across the street from this blog's favorite bar.
While every report that we've read about this project characterizes the Rambler Building rehab as turning it into retail space, that's not fully what's in the plans. The diagrams clearly show the Rambler Building will return, somewhat, to its roots and be transformed into a parking garage, with a tiny slice of retail space on one corner.
The Rambler Building (2246 South Indiana Avenue) is not currently a city landmark, itself, but is part of the city's landmarked Motor Row District. That's why the Commission on Chicago Landmarks had to give its approval to the project, which is did a week earlier (also live tweeted by a Chicago Architecture Blog reporter for your convenience). It was designed by the architecture firm Jenney, Mundie & Jensen, and built in 1911 as a sales and service center for Rambler automobiles, which were actually built just up the road in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
While the Landmarks Commission gave McHugh's bonnie lass its blessing, it wasn't without conditions. Among the caveats for the Rambler Building are:
- The art display walls proposed at the first floor of the building shall be partial height and final design details shall be submitted for Historic Preservation staff review and approval with the permit application;
- Storefront mullions shall have a dark, factory-applied finish;
- Any required replacement masonry shall match the historic in size, color, texture and joint profile and masonry samples shall be reviewed and approved by Historic Preservation staff;
Interestingly, the McHugh data center will actually take a big bite out of the north side of the Rambler Building. The Landmarks Commission says that's OK, possibly because the teeth marks leave the street-facing facade unmunched.
The Rambler Building will also see two of its eight Indiana Avenue-facing bays turned into loading dock access with a double-width curb cut. Actual retail space in the Rambler Building is limited to 1,083 square feet along the three southernmost window bays. After that it's an emergency stairwell exit, the two bays of loading docks, and then the lobby of the data center.
The Bird-Sykes Building has a few conditions, too, but they're mostly common sense:
- As proposed, the non-historic covering and infill at the front façade shall be removed and the masonry façade restored based on the physical evidence uncovered at the site. A masonry restoration and reconstruction plan as well as cleaning specification shall be submitted with the permits plans for review and approval. Any required replacement masonry shall match the historic in size, color, texture and joint profile and masonry samples shall be reviewed and approved by Historic Preservation staff;
- Any remnants of the original storefronts shall be preserved or, if not salvageable, shall inform the design of the new storefronts. New storefront elements shall have a dark, factory-applied finish and storefront details shall be submitted with the permit plans.
The future of the Bird-Sykes Building appears to be for use as a gym The diagrams for the building's future don't show blank retail space, but instead a climbing wall, juice bar, day care center, member's service area, and a pool with locker rooms.
- Data center green roof: 22,145 square feet
- Retail space green roof: 10,970 square feet
- Hotel pick-up/drop off is in the alley behind the hotel, not on Cermak or Indiana
- 30 bicycle parking spaces
- Data center will try for LEED Silver
- Hotel will be plain old LEED certified
- November, 2014: Start of data center construction
- July, 2015: Start of hotel construction
- January, 2016: Completion of data center
- July, 2017: Hotel completion