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Woodruff Arcade Demolition Date Set, No Plans To Address New Development’s Design Concerns

The proposed development to replace Woodruff Arcade

It was only a couple weeks ago that Preservation Chicago put Edgewater’s Woodruff Arcade building among the top seven endangered sites in Chicago. Now it seems as though it will also be the first on the list to vanish from the map.

The building which sits on the Southeast corner of Broadway and Sheridan is scheduled to be demolished next week, most likely on Monday.

Though many residents fought alongside the Edgewater Historical Society to save the building, their efforts have failed. In an interview with EVB, Alderman Harry Osterman said that saving Woodruff by landmarking the building was 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.”

However, LeRoy Blommaert of the Edgewater Historical Society said that even though his organization was taken off guard by the sale and proposed demolition of Woodruff, there was time to save the building through landmarking.

“It is a sad day for Edgewater. It is a sad day for the city of Chicago,” said Blommaert. “Woodruff Arcade should have been saved because it could have been landmarked. However, after our November meeting with Alderman Osterman we realized its fate was sealed. Personally, I feel that the Alderman did not want to save it. He could of acted, and for unknown reasons he did not.”

The Woodruff Interior

Built in 1923 by architect Herbert H. Green, 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.

The Alderman also told EVB that he was in communication with the developer, Borekci Real Estate and Algonquin Ventures Real Estate LLC, to address the future plans. “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,” Osterman said.

However, a source has told EVB that the current plans of the proposed development are moving forward unchanged. It calls for complete demolition of Woodruff and construction of a seven-story building with 58 residential units and first floor retail. The developer has been unresponsive to designing a more aesthetically pleasing building that addresses the community’s concerns. Residents have largely panned the development, calling it on social media ‘hideous’, ‘ugly’, and ‘totally inappropriate for the neighborhood.’

But for the Woodruff Arcade Building, it is a Chicago gem that few residents realized was there until it was too late. A building that was not so pretty on the outside but had a beautiful heart on the inside, will fall to Edgewater’s progress forward and the almighty dollar.

 


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