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'Chicago Fire' Transforms Historic Broadway Bank

By Linze Rice | March 1, 2016 5:39am
 The TV series "Chicago Fire" transformed the historic Broadway Bank building into The Vault Bar, which will "catch fire" during an upcoming episode.
'Chicago Fire' Edgewater
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EDGEWATER — If you've walked past the historic former Broadway Bank building in Edgewater recently, you've probably noticed it looks pretty different.

The gigantic storefront at 5948-60 N. Broadway, a Chicago landmark that was originally an upscale auto showroom in the early 1900s, is the site of "The Vault Bar" in an upcoming episode of the NBC series "Chicago Fire."

Filming at the fake restaurant will take place all day Tuesday, notices said, and though there will be no flames, the episode in part centers around fire crews putting out an electrical fire at what is meant to be a wine bar. (In real life, a wine bar is being developed across the street.)

There will be emergency vehicles near the set, and fake smoke will be used to simulate a fire, officials said.

The interior and exterior changes, including tables and chairs, curtains, a fresh paint job, a return to classic flooring, and money-themed decorations to the windows, make the building look great, but also beg the question: What if it really looked like this all the time?

The outside of the building at 5960 N. Broadway pays homage to the space's historic roots as the Broadway Bank. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Neighborhood groups like the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce have been trying to fill the building for several years and have used the property for community and business events as a way to showcase its potential — but so far to no avail.

Joe Padorr, the property's leasing agent, said with the addition of a kitchen, it would be "absolutely" feasible for a tenant to repurpose the bank as a restaurant, or even use it as a catered banquet hall. Recently, it's been used for photo shoots.

Though the sprawling property only comes with about 20 parking spaces, Heather Shamku, the building's property manager, said she's already spoken with several valet services that could provide parking without crowding nearby residential streets.

The biggest challenge, however, was the fact some details in the building could not be changed because they're protected under the city's historic landmark status — such as the gold ceiling, light fixtures, some windows and other decorative accents that give the room its "classic" feel, Padorr said.

Yet, the way in which film crews present building as The Vault Bar only highlights for Padorr and Shamku the possibilities the building could live up to, and has them hopeful someone watching the episode might be inspired by what they see.

"It's really the perfect place for someone looking for that classic look," Padorr said.

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