HYDE PARK — The Illinois Institute of Technology is planning to convert its landmark main building into housing, according to city filings.
The university in Bronzeville has partnered with Ohio-based developer MCM Company and is pursuing a zoning change that would allow the school to convert the building at 3300 S. Federal St. into as many as 84 housing units.
"Illinois Tech is excited to be collaborating with MCM on the adaptive reuse of the Main Building," said Mark Zonca, a spokesman for the university. "We are working through zoning approval and negotiation of agreements with MCM for the work that will restore this historic Chicago landmark and convert it to residential apartments."
Preservationists have worried for the last two years that the structure from 1893 was starting to crumble.
“Everyone was moving out and we couldn’t tell what the issue was,” said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. “Then the netting went up.”
All of the university’s offices in the building were moved out in 2012. Shortly after nets were installed on the outside walls to prevent masonry from falling off the building.
In 2015, Preservation Chicago added the building to its list of Chicago’s seven most endangered buildings to call broader attention to the building’s issues.
“There are millions of dollars of restoration needed on that façade,” Miller said.
Miller said he was “elated” at the news Monday that IIT may be moving forward with finding a new life for the campus’ oldest building.
Designated a landmark in 2004, the Romanesque revival building was finished in 1893 as the new home for the classrooms, offices and studios of Armour Institute of Technology, a predecessor to IIT.
In the spring of 2015, there were signs the university was looking for some way to get people back into the building, whether they were college students or not.
The university issued a requests for proposals to solicit ideas to reuse the building for everything from condos to a hotel and conference center.
"This will be a vibrant improvement to our campus, further establishing the university and its tech park as a growth engine on Chicago’s south side and spurring other positive development in the Bronzeville community," Zonca said.
According to reports from last year, the building needed significant work on the interior, but maintained the stained-glass windows honoring the Armour family, the grand wrought-iron staircase and a model railroad on the top floor.
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