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Historic Rogers Park Firehouse To Be Sold To Neighborhood Couple

By Linze Rice | June 6, 2017 5:14am
 Jim Andrews' and Dean Vance's vision for the historic firehouse at 1723 W. Greenleaf Ave. in Rogers Park.
Jim Andrews' and Dean Vance's vision for the historic firehouse at 1723 W. Greenleaf Ave. in Rogers Park.
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Jim Andrews; Dean Vance

ROGERS PARK — A 102-year-old firehouse in Rogers Park may finally see a new buyer after an eight-year search to develop the property. 

At a Plan Commission meeting June 15, officials will introduce a resolution to sell the firehouse at 1721 W. Greenleaf Ave. to Jim Andrews and Dean Vance, a long-time neighborhood couple who have sought to renovate the building for years.

The pair attempted to buy the building during the city's last round of bids in 2013-2014 and were among three finalists selected by community members to potentially take it over, but an error by the city required the process to be halted and restarted.

Earlier this year Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said though he had gone through a community input process to recommend the best buyer to the city, he was told he would have to choose the highest bidder instead.

In February, the city opened the Greenleaf Avenue firehouse back up to bids for the third time since it closed in 2009 and issued a request for proposals with a target selling price of $315,000.

A February open house revealed a crumbling and neglected interior. Andrews and Vance have ambitious plans to improve the site. 

Along with their dog Tango, Andrews and Vance want to transform the firehouse into a "work-live" space that would include rooftop solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and two greenhouses, according to site plans.

The two said they would live on the second floor, while the first floor would be used for their ad agency and therapy practice. 

Other features would include parking for up to 10 cars; transforming the building's 10,000-square-foot concrete lot into a landscaped garden; restoration and retention of the firehouse's facade; and an emphasis on maintaining as much of the architectural integrity as possible.

The building includes an vintage air raid siren.

The estimated $1,657,540 renovation could potentially triple the property's value to about $925,280, according to Andrews and Vance. 

If all goes according to plan, the pair hope to have the renovations are finished by the end of 2018.

On the couple's website, Andrews and Vance said they have the "passion to create something extraordinary" and "have a unique vision that will bring an innovative, vibrant and sustainable live-work space to Greenleaf Avenue."

The station, formerly Engine Co. No. 102, has been on the market several times since it closed in 2009 after the construction of a newer firehouse. 

The 6,323-square-foot building was finished in 1915 and sits atop a 8,934-square-foot lot, according to the city, and is currently zoned for residential developments, though the planning department said it was willing to consider requests that require zoning changes.

Its potential use is "flexible," according to the city, but "respondents must respect the existing land uses and architecture of the surrounding area when submitting proposals," and proposals should "preserve the historically significant exterior elements and basic structure of the building."

Concept renderings for the proposed major renovation. [Jim Andrews; Dean Vance]