LINCOLN PARK — Developers are set to break ground on two new apartment buildings at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Montana Street, replacing a building described as "Sullivanesque" in honor of architect Louis Sullivan and another that was a Chicago folk haven and rumored hangout of John Dillinger.
BlitzLake Partners was breaking ground this week on a 22-unit apartment building with 5,100 square feet of ground-floor retail at 2448 N. Lincoln Ave., and a smaller nine-unit project with 1,200 square feet of retail across Montana at 2462 N. Lincoln.
The development has been touted by Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) as a key part of economic renewal along Lincoln Avenue at the midway point between the new Lincoln Common development on the old Children's Memorial Hospital site and Elevate Lincoln Park on the old Lincoln Centre site.
It won approval over preservationist complaints that the building at 2448 N. Lincoln was "Sullivanesque," resembling the work of architect Louis Sullivan, although a historical consultant on the project described it as merely a "knockoff of a knockoff."
Nonetheless, the Illinois Railway Museum is salvaging elements of the facade including glazed terracotta ornaments through a collaboration with Smith, BlitzLake, the Wrightwood Neighbors Association and Preservation Chicago. It intends to make use of it in its new $7.5 million, two-block Vintage Main Street exhibit in Union, Ill.
Across the street, however, was one of Chicago's authentic folk clubs, Orphans, which held the corner bar at 2462 N. Lincoln from 1969 to 1990. It was part of a folk stretch on the block that included Somebody Else's Troubles, a club co-owned by Steve Goodman and the Holstein brothers, Fred, Ed and Alan, who went on to open Holstein's in the same area.
Orphans was closed in 1990 by co-owner Alan Baer, who went on to open Beat Kitchen. The corner bar became the Gin Mill, when it also adopted Michigan State and Detroit sports, and most recently Hi-Tops after it moved from its original Wrigleyville location.
According to a 1990 story on the Orphans closing by Dave Hoekstra in the Sun-Times, before that it was Club Biograph, a rumored hangout of legendary bank robber John Dillinger, who supposedly "always sat on the third stool from the end of the bar."
Dillinger, of course, was shot and killed by police 83 years ago this month after attending a movie at the Biograph Theater down the street.
But progress comes in the form of nine one-bedroom apartments on the site. Across the street, at 2448 N. Lincoln, the 22 units will include four studios, 10 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedrooms.
BlitzLake was expected to give details on the demolition and construction at the monthly meeting of the Wrightwood Neighbors Association at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the New Life Community Church, 1110 W. Lill Ave. A free dinner starts the evening at 6:30, followed by a Town Hall Police District community meeting at 7.
Construction is expected to take a little more than a year.