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Historic Lincoln Park Building Could Be Torn Down if Developer Has His Way

By Paul Biasco | September 27, 2013 8:51am
 A developer is proposing to build a seven-story apartment building and as many as 10 townhomes on a parcel of land at Halsted and Willow streets.
A developer is proposing to build a seven-story apartment building and as many as 10 townhomes on a parcel of land at Halsted and Willow streets.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LINCOLN PARK — A high-profile developer wants to knock down a historic structure to build a seven-story development along Halsted Street that would include more than 60 apartment units.

The project proposed by Golub Real Estate Investment and Development is slated for the northwest corner of Halsted and Willow streets.

Residents who saw the initial plans presented to both the RANCH Triangle and Lincoln Central Association said the project would involve demolishing the building where Black Duck Tavern & Grill stands and numerous other buildings north of Willow Street on Halsted Street.

The apartments would stretch the length of five addresses and include retail on the first floor. Most units would fall in the 800-square-foot range, according to residents familiar with the plans.

Early renderings presented to neighborhood groups also propose as many as 10 townhomes along Dayton Street directly west of Halsted Street.

The project would involve tearing down five buildings, but would leave the Willow Dayton Apartments standing.

Neighbors say the proposal would greatly change the character of the neighborhood, which consists of many 19th century buildings in stark contrast to new developments south of North Avenue.

"They were just dismissive of the value of this historic district," said Deirdre Graziano, vice president of the Lincoln Central Association and member of the zoning committee. "It's changing an area that has a lot of charm."

Graziano said the developers were identifying with the rapidly developing area south of North Avenue along Halsted Street and trying to extend that development north.

"What they are proposing — seven stories — is really amazing," she said.

Golub, the firm that constructed the John Hancock Center among other prominent Chicago and international buildings, acquired the properties on the site known as the Halsted Place Apartments about a year ago.

The current buildings on the plot are a mix of 144 apartments that reach a maximum of three stories.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and RANCH Triangle scheduled the first public meeting on the development for Monday night at St. Teresa De Avila, 1950 N. Kenmore Ave.

"RANCH Triangle sincerely hopes a solution will emerge after Monday that will reflect the character of the community," said Diane Levin, planning chair for the neighborhood group.

Lee Golub, Principal and Executive Vice President for Golub, confirmed the company is seeking to build a multistory, mixed-use residential building, but refused further comment.

"We are not going to be releasing any details ahead of the meeting," Golub said Thursday.

One of the major sticking points raised by residents was the demolition of the Black Duck building at 1800 N. Halsted, which was built in the 1880s and is designated "orange" in the city's landmark rating system.

The rating is the second-highest behind red, and requires an automatic review of a demolition permit by landmarks officials.

Residents of the area say the building serves an architectural entrance into the quaint neighborhood.

Dan Allen, current owner of the Black Duck, has run the restaurant since 1984.

He admits times have changed, but the building has kept its character from its days as a speakeasy.

There's even an urban myth that the ghost of a young girl who was killed during a police raid haunts the building, according to Allen.

"I believe there's a ghost in here," he said. "I think she's mad at everybody."

So far, the plans presented to both RANCH and neighboring Lincoln Central Association lacked details, according to members.

"I think they were trying to feel out if they were going to get any resistance from Lincoln Central because they had already met with some of the zoning people at RANCH and could feel the pushback," Graziano said.

In the end, the decision will be up to the alderman.

"It's going to be very interesting when you walk into that committee meeting [Monday]," Graziano said.