It’s been 88 years since the song Happy Days Are Here Again first started crackling over the airwaves of Chicago’s early radio stations. Back then, Chicago was a city of music and J.E.O. Pridmore’s Bush Temple of Music was a showcase of the city’s piano industry. It later fell into disrepair, but an innovative re-imagining of the building has brought it back to life.
Cedar Street Companies is being honored by Landmarks Illinois with the 2017 Real Estate and Building Industries Council Award for renovating and restoring the former piano store, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Making the numbers work for residential real estate in downtown Chicago is always challenging. Cedar’s two-part solution was to fill the old structure with micro-apartments, and then compliment that building with a new, modern glass tower behind it. The result is 108 homes in the historic building, with facade restoration designed by FitzGerald Associates, with Vinci Hamp Architects; and 110 more in the 15-story supplemental tower designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture.
While Cedar Street has added modern luxuries to Bush Temple, many of the building’s historic details have been preserved. Bush Temple has its original skylights on the first floor and original marble walls in its corridors. Terrazzo flooring throughout the building has been maintained. Many apartment units also have original single-panel doors with fritted glass and restored panel windows.
“Cedar Street has become known for its creative and exciting apartment conversions, which leverage historic character as part of a successful business model,” said Bonnie McDonald, President and CEO of Landmarks Illinois. “We’re looking forward to highlighting Cedar Street’s completed projects and helping reveal its latest project to our network of industry professionals.”
The project is now known as Flats No. 800, the latest in Cedar Street’s Flats chain of diminutive apartments in repurposed buildings across the city.
Cedar Street will be officially presented with the award next month.