EDGEWATER — The 94-year-old indoor shopping center known as the Woodruff Arcade in Edgewater is slated for demolition — but not without a last-ditch effort by local historians to preserve the unique building first.
The 6361 N. Broadway building at the southeast corner of Sheridan Road and Devon Avenue houses multiple businesses inside and throughout, and is the last building of its kind left in the city.
After DNAinfo was first to report on the building's sale in February, the Edgewater Historical Society began a campaign to save the property from demolition and to preserve its history in the neighborhood and Chicago.
"The Woodruff Arcade is a hidden gem, but a gem nonetheless," the organization says on a website. "It is a unique building type, the precursor of today’s indoor shopping mall, and it is the only one in Edgewater (we once had two). More importantly, it is the only one in all of Chicago. For that reason alone it should be preserved."
Since May, 447 signatures have been collected via an online petition.
However, just two days after the petition was started by the group, real estate developer and property management company Edgemark Commercial Real Estate Services LLC posted a press release on its website with potential renderings of the building, referring to the space as the future "Loyola Gateway."
Those plans originally called for a six-story building with 136 residential units, though a brochure for the property now proposes seven stories and 58 residential units with ground-floor retail set for fall 2018.
Representatives for the property could not immediately be reached.
Dan Luna, chief of staff for Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), said in recent weeks the alderman had been presented with and provided feedback on some renderings, but that there were still "too many open questions" to definitively say what the building would look like or when further action might be taken on the property.
Because developers are also not currently requesting a zoning change, no community meetings to discuss the building's future would be required — however Luna said Osterman would be open with sharing more details with the neighborhood as progress is made at the site.
Luna said Osterman is aware of the historical society's efforts, but could not say if ultimately it would have an impact on the building's development.
Developers said they would look into paying homage to the original arcade-style architecture in some way, Luna said, but in what way would be up to them.
"Property rights are property rights, that's your No. 1 right in the U.S., so you can't really dictate what can and can't be done on properties especially if they're building within [their] rights," Luna said.
Since the start of the year, tenants have slowly been trickling out or making plans to move.
After the building was sold to Borekci Real Estate and Algonquin Ventures Real Estate LLC, tenants were told they needed to leave by the end of 2017, some of which, like Planned Parenthood, have already been making arrangements for.
Osterman's office does not have plans to meet again with developers until after Labor Day next month, Luna said.
A rendering of the 6361 N. Broadway building from Edgemark's news release in May. [Edgemark]A rendering of the 6361 N. Broadway building from Edgemark's news release in May. [Edgemark]The Woodruff Arcade building likely first opened in 1923, according to the Edgewater Historical Society. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]The building houses multiple tenants who have been given until the end of the year to move out, several business owners said. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]