We’re starting to see the first signs of something more than press releases coming out of Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West program to revitalize chronically overlooked portions of the city. One of those signs is a proposal to redevelop the old Laramie State Bank building on Chicago Avenue in the city’s Austin neighborhood.
A design from Perkins + Will that was released by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development this week would transform the shuttered building and five adjacent vacant lots into an urban nucleus of residential and retail space that would hopefully attract more people, more development, and more prosperity to the struggling area.
The Laramie State Bank Building was designed by Meyer and Cook, and opened in 1929. More recently, it was known as the Citizens National Bank of Chicago, but that closed in 1991. Preservation Chicago added it to the group’s list of most endangered buildings in 2019, noting that it is in such bad shape that even the bank that owned it didn’t want it: “Due to high costs of repair, in an unusual move, the bank later returned the building to the former owners.”
Anyone interesting in making this dream come true should let the city know before Thanksgiving.