WEST LOOP — The Commission on Chicago Landmarks officially recommended the City Council approve a proposal to landmark the Fulton Market/Randolph District — after the local alderman also threw his support behind the plan despite heated opposition from building owners.
The board approved the recommendation by unanimous decision Wednesday.
At the meeting, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) announced that he would support the plan to preserve the culture of the neighborhood. His announcement Wednesday was the first time he has taken an official position on the controversial issue.
The alderman, who has represented the area for 20 years, said Fulton Market property owners have recently "flipped" from wanting the city to preserve the neighborhood to "wanting free will."
"Landmarking is not going to hurt people as much as they think it's going to hurt them," Burnett said.
The landmark designation proposal could now be introduced to City Council as early as June, according to city officials.
Commission Chairman Rafael Leon said the Fulton-Randolph District represents more than 160 years of Chicago’s association with food-related manufacturing and distribution.
"The designation will help ensure this legacy continues to contribute to the character and economy of the Near West Side,” Leon said.
Stephanie Lulay breaks down both side of the landmark proposal:
At an April hearing, Landmark Commission officials revealed that only five property owners that would be affected by the plan to landmark the district consented to the city's plan. Another 106 affected property owners indicated that they opposed the landmarking plan and 63 did not respond.
If the plan to create a historic district along Fulton and Randolph is approved by the council, the designation would tag about 87 area properties as landmarks, a move that property owners believe would limit future development opportunities at the sites. Another 55 properties in the area, including 11 vacant lots, would be considered "non-contributing" district properties that could be demolished, according to Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Planning and Development.
A vacant lot and a building located on the perimeter of the district were removed from the proposed district Wednesday.
According to the city, the historic designation would require landmarks commission staff to review any building permits for properties within the district in order to help "maintain its historic character and important role within the thriving Fulton Market Innovation District," Strazzabosco said.
Since the Fulton Market landmark plan was preliminary approved, 112 building permits have been approved in the neighborhood that conform to the new guidelines, city officials said Wednesday.
The West Loop Community Organization, a delegate agency of the city, supports the proposed landmark designation. Three other groups — the Randolph/Fulton Market Association, West Central Association, which are also delegate agencies of the city, and Neighbors of the West Loop, a neighborhood group — oppose it.
The historic district proposal is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's larger Fulton Market Innovation District, a $42 million development plan to help shape development in the West Loop.
In April 2014, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks gave preliminary approval to the historical landmark recommendations.
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