Tag: Landmarks Illinois

‘We’re Ready To Go,’ Says Developer Of First And Lake Retail Project In Maywood

Sunday, September 9, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: A Landmarks Illinois design concept that developers used for inspiration to inform their own plans for retail and restaurant space at the corner of First Avenue and Lake Street. | Landmarks Illinois 

A developer who wants to build a complex of restaurants and retail stores on the corner of First Avenue and Lake Street in Maywood urged village officials during a recent Board of Trustees meeting to speed up the process of completing the project.

Continue reading “‘We’re Ready To Go,’ Says Developer Of First And Lake Retail Project In Maywood”

Tribune: Maywood Has Big Hopes for Historic Home

Widows HomeThe entrance of the vacant Home for Soldiers’ Widows in Maywood is wrapped in tarp and scaffolding. Workers are repairing the steps and front of the dilapidated building on First Avenue between Ohio and Lake streets. Caption: Tribune. (Photo: Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune)

Sunday, January 11, 2015 || Originally Published: Chicago Tribune || 1/6/15 || Stephanie K. Baer

Scaffolding covered in white tarp wraps around the entrance of the dilapidated red brick Georgian structure on First Avenue between Ohio and Lake streets in west suburban Maywood.

Workers are repairing the porch steps of the Soldiers’ Widows Home in hopes of attracting a new developer for the 1924 building that once housed women whose husbands died in the Civil War or later U.S. wars.

The village-owned structure has been vacant and decaying since 2003.

“There’s a lot of opportunity here for a developer with some vision,” said Vicki Haas, a member of the village’s Historic Preservation Commission, which recommended last fall that the Village Board allocate tax increment financing dollars to repair the two-story building’s porch. “(The area) lends itself for some really special redevelopment there that ties in with the structure.”

And in Maywood, which has struggled with economic development in recent decades, revitalizing the home and surrounding area is important to the community.

“(The village has) been forgotten about for the last 40 years unless possibly there’s a crime story,” said Tom Kus, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission.

In October, the board approved using $69,900 from the St. Charles Road TIF to repair the porch and repaint the structure located at 224 N. First Ave. Officials are also planning to use additional TIF dollars to clean up the interior of the building, though a contract for that part of the project has not yet been signed, Acting Village Manager David Myers said.

Myers said the repairs and renovations should be completed sometime this spring.

“The commission was smart to say, ‘Let’s invest and do some key exterior public facing repairs that can really help people understand why this building is important,'” said Lisa DiChiera, director of advocacy for Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit historic preservation, education and advocacy group. “It could really be sort of a new perspective of the type of architecture that Maywood possesses and the opportunities for redeveloping this community that you know has had a lot of challenges in recent years.”

In 2010, the Village Board considered proposals to convert the building to a restaurant and jazz club or senior housing, but those plans fell through. There are currently no development proposals on the books for the vacant building, which sits near the eastern gateway into the village along the Des Plaines River.

Officials and residents hope to have better luck in the new year.

Kus hopes a plan emerges.

“It just depends on the right person coming out there,” he said.

The village is currently seeking a real estate broker to market the property and adjacent land owned by the village for redevelopment. Once a broker is chosen, the village plans to share a recent study conducted by Landmarks Illinois with prospective developers to show potential ways to redevelop the building and the larger surrounding property.

The study, which was completed last summer, determined that the best use would be some kind of office conversion and that a broker should market the fact that the building has been deemed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

If the home gets on the register, the developer would be able to use a 20 percent federal tax credit for its historic status.

Philip Hamp, president of Vinci-Hamp Architects — which worked on the Soldiers’ Widows Home study with the nonprofit — said that the prospect of developing the building with the adjacent land is more attractive to developers.

“When (the home) is linked to a larger development, it becomes an interesting concept,” Hamp said. “The development’s not just going to be a cookie-cutter strip mall. It’s got some resonance and history because its going to be linked to this building as part of the site plan.”

He added that while the building has gone into disrepair over the years, its “bones” are still intact.

“It’s quite a solidly built building that could lend itself to reuse,” Hamp said. “By saving it, you’ve got the piece of character that’s important to the community.”

Despite plans to market the building for an office space reuse, Kus and Haas said that some community members would still like to see the historic home used for a restaurant — a proposal that is still alive and well, according to one man behind the 2010 plan.

Michael Dawson, the Maywood resident who suggested converting the building into a jazz club and restaurant, said a sort of revival of that plan was in the works, though nothing has been submitted to the village just yet.

“Something is being formulated,” said Dawson, who also serves on the village’s Plan Commission/Zoning Board of Appeals.

He added that he was not opposed to the office idea proposed by the Landmarks Illinois study.

“Their study is very good. I think (the restaurant) is just another concept,” he said. “All of these ideas are viable.” VFP

“If this property were someone else’s, they would be receiving citations,” Says Maywood Trustee About Village-owned Soldiers’ Widows Home

Screenshot 2014-08-14 at 3.13.09 PM(A 2012 photo of the Soldiers’ Widows Home by David Shalliol. Below, a photo of the building’s grand porch taken by Chris Payne. Both photos were pulled from the Landmarks Illinois study presented at the August 13, LLOC meeting).

Screenshot 2014-08-14 at 3.12.33 PMThursday, August 14, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

MAYWOOD — At a Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting last night, the Village Board considered a proposal from Oak Park-based Heitzman Architects to shepherd the process of rehabbing the front porch of the Soldiers’ Widows Home at 224 North First Avenue in Maywood.

According to the proposal letter, Heitzman has offered “to examine the porch construction on all levels, determine what members need to be repaired or replaced, measure, produce detailed drawings and specifications for [the Village’s] review, advertise for bid, submit the approved documents for competitive bids from general contractors [and] administer the bidding process,” among other tasks. Heitzman’s bid is $7,500.

The Georgian Revival building was designed by renowned Maywood architect Francis E. Dunlap and built in 1924 to house the widows and children of Union Civil War veterans. In the late 1970’s, after the last of its Civil War-related clientele had either died or moved out, the building was re-purposed to house the mentally ill. In 2003, however, a kitchen fire resulted in the building’s vacancy and it’s been vacant ever since.

In 2008, the Village of Maywood purchased the building and the two lots adjacent it, but the Village has not yet been able to land any successful development; and local preservation enthusiasts are concerned that what development the Village does land may threaten the Home’s very existence.

Last year, InSite Real Estate Development offered to purchase the two empty lots adjacent the Widows Home for the appraised value of $450,000. InSite had planned to develop a retail and banking center, with a branch of Hinsdale Bank and Trust as the development’s anchor tenant. However, the development fell through after squabbling among the Board of Trustees, with some trustees preferring an alternative development proposal presented by Granite Realty. The Granite proposal entailed developing all three lots–the Widows Home included–and might also have entailed tearing down the historically significant structure.

In 2012, the Widows Home was listed among the ten most endangered historic places in Illinois by Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the preservation of historically valuable buildings. The Landmarks Illinois website stated at the time that the “Maywood Historic Preservation Commission is now concerned that the building may be demolished to make way for new development rather than incorporating this piece of Maywood’s history into the revitalization of an important intersection at 1st Avenue and Lake Street.”

In the more than five years since the Village has been responsible for the site, a minor urban jungle has developed at the corner of 1st and Lake, with the Widows Home appearing less like a marketable piece of real estate than the relic of an abandoned past and a major eyesore in a highly visible location. If properly developed, however, the site could constitute a major commercial opportunity for Maywood.

But the responsibility for making the site attractive to prospective developers has largely shifted from the Village itself to local civic organizations and commissions, such as Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO), the Maywood Historic Preservation Commission and the Beautification and Environmental Commission, which have deployed teams of volunteers to do things like paint the exposed cardboard covering the building’s window slots. The Heitzman proposal may be the most serious, sustained attention the Village has given the building since it bought it in 2008.

“[The plan is] is to do the same thing we would ask any citizen [or business] to do with their own property, which is to get it looking decent,” said Trustee Michael Rogers, an architect by trade and the Board’s most vocal proponent of the Heitzman proposal. “If this property were someone else’s they would be receiving citations. We need to practice what we preach [and] move forward and set an example. When you do that, then you begin to get the interest.”

Screenshot 2014-08-14 at 3.13.43 PM(Interior photos taken of the Widows Home and that were included in the Landmarks study).

“We have to set an example,” said Mayor Perkins, mirroring Trustee Rogers’s sentiments. “We’ve got the opportunity to clean [this property up]…We’ve got to lead from the front [and] take care of the property…It looks bad, especially on our main street.”

According to a study presented at last night’s meeting by Lisa DiChiera, Director of Advocacy for Landmarks Illinois, despite it’s deteriorated condition, the building is structurally sound and only needs minor repairs. The study, which was produced pro bono by Landmarks Illinois, Sullivan, Goulette & Wilson Architects, and Vinci Hamp Architects, comprised a long-term, comprehensive plan for the entire three-plot site. It recommended that the Soldiers Widows Home be converted into an “office or medical office building” that could be integrated into a larger redevelopment site that would encompass all three plots on the corner of 1st Avenue and Lake Street.

The site’s proximity to Loyola University Medical Center, Rush Oak Park Hospital, Gottlieb Health and Fitness Center and Westlake Community Hospital Center was a major reason behind the study’s recommendation. DiChiera noted that the building’s historic character may translate into an economic advantage for luring prospective developers.

The Widows Home is eligible to be listed both as a local landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. If it can land either designation, potential developers could utilize a Cook County Class-L Property Tax Incentive or a Federal Historic Tax Credit, respectively, to support their rehabilitation efforts.

Tom Kus, the chairman of the Maywood Historic Preservation Commission, channeled the passions of many residents who consider the Soldiers’ Widows Home more than a building to be developed, but a cultural node connecting the Village’s past, present and future ambitions.

“[This building] is only one among a few left in the country that were dedicated to [housing widows from the Civil War],” he said. “A lot of people in this community have had a significant attachment to [the Widows Home]. I’ve been here for 14 years and I’ve heard people lobbying to do something with this building. It is a magnificent buildilng. I live in the neighborhood over there and I’ve caught people taking pictures  and I’ve stopped and talked to them…they find the building fascinating.” VFP


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