Edgeville Buzz

Saving Woodruff Arcade Unlikely, Alderman Working To Improve Development’s Aesthetic Design

The Woodruff Arcade at 6361 N. Broadway has area preservationists in gear to try to save the building from a proposed 7-story high rise. Even though there has been no set time table for the development, Alderman Harry Osterman of the 48th Ward feels the property will most likely be turned into a mixed-use complex.

The Alderman says he has met with members of the Edgewater Historical Society to discuss the possibility of landmarking the Woodruff Arcade. However, through those talks landmarking is highly unlikely.

“Because the property is currently in the process of being developed, I do not think that going through landmarking would be successful,” said Alderman Osterman. “So I will not initiate landmarking of the building. But we have been in talks with the developer about trying to maintain the historic nature of the Woodruff building with a new design that will blend in with the community.”

The Alderman does feel that the planned mixed-use development, which contains first floor retail and residential above, will have substantial positive impact for the corner of Devon, Broadway and Sheridan. Both Alderman Osterman and Alderman Moore are working together to create short-term infrastructure improvements to the busy intersection such as walkable sidewalks as well as more long-terms ones that will improve pedestrian safety and reduce traffic.

As the developer (Borekci Real Estate and Algonquin Ventures Real Estate LLC) works with the 48th Ward Office, the hopes are that many of the historical amenities of the Woodruff Arcade can be kept. The building is currently in the forming stages but has already gone through at least three design revisions.

The Edgewater Historical Society with support of many residents have teamed up to try to save the building before it is demolished. Built in 1923, the Woodruff Arcade is one of the last of its kind in the nation. Its interior space has a two-story courtyard with a grand glass skylight that runs the length of the structure and a walkway on the second floor with a walkable balcony that gives views to the floor below. The design is considered the predecessor to the modern mall.

Alderman Osterman and the developer’s team recently went to the Edgewater North Neighbor’s block club meeting where they informed residents of the current plans. Many in attendance were concerned about the aesthetic view of the building and that feedback will likely be addressed by the developer’s architects.

“We will continue to discuss those aesthetic viewpoints,”Alderman Osterman added. “The building is somewhat of a gateway to the Edgewater community from the North and there is no final plan right now of what the building is going to look like. They developer has met with us and has expressed interest to work with the community.”

With any large development such as this, the Alderman admits you need to listen to the community and be sensitive to area residents. He feels if there is a way to keep historic features of Woodruff, that would be a plus. But in the long run, development opportunities that will help encourage economic development and affordable, quality housing are very important to Edgewater’s future.

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