WEST LOOP — A group of trees that line a courtyard were the first to go at the former Carmichael's site Tuesday.
The teardown Tuesday will make way for demolition to begin as soon as possible on the land at 1050 and 1060 W. Monroe St., developer Tom Meador said. The demolition work will be completed ahead of Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group's plans to develop 120 apartments on the former Carmichael's Steakhouse site in the West Loop.
The developer wants to demolish the 68-year-old Carmichael's building right away because squatters have been setting up camp there, Meador said. While the developer has secured permits for demolition, the eventual development on the site will require a zoning change.
To the neighbors who are losing their "beloved" courtyard, watching the mature trees torn down Tuesday was "emotionally devastating," neighbor Kelley Smith said. Before Carmichael's Steakhouse closed, a large landscaped courtyard on the private property was open to the public.
"[I] can't believe they are gone and this is seriously happening," she said.
The courtyard served as a meeting place where many area residents would walk their dogs, and neighbors previously submitted a petition to Ald. Danny Solis (25th) asking that the "beautifully maintained aesthetic on the block" and the existing green space at the site be preserved.
Despite neighbors' requests, Meador confirmed at a Monday meeting that the green space would go, and the developer instead plans to develop 11,000 square feet of new open space at the site, including 3,000 square feet of green space at the corner of Monroe and Aberdeen streets. The developer's plans previously called for about 8,000 square feet of green space at the site.
The developer, who plans to build two four-story brick buildings, previously pitched 130 apartments at the Carmichael's site. If the development is approved and building permits are ultimately issued, Meador estimates the buildings would be completed in a little more than a year.
Carmichael's, a mainstay of the West Loop dining scene, closed in March after 18 years in business.
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