Preservation fails; Burnham-designed West Loop building meets wrecking ball

on Apr30

30 April 2018 | 7:38 pm

Despite a down-to-the wire effort to save it from the wrecking ball, a Daniel Burnham-designed building was turned into rubble in the bustling West Loop late last week.

Preservationists had tried to find interested parties willing to fork over about $200,000 — lower than initial estimates — to salvage the unique facade of the building.

Two parties stepped up and showed interest, but a deal couldn’t be hashed out, said Ward Miller, who heads up the advocacy group Preservation Chicago and aided in a search for saviors with deep pockets.

“It just didn’t work out at the last minute,” Miller said of the deal. “We were very close.”

The building at 1217 W. Washington Blvd. was designed in 1910 by Daniel Burnham, revered as one of the greatest architects and city planners Chicago has ever produced.

It was demolished Thursday.

Miller would not disclose the identities of the interested parties or why any potential deal fell apart.

“It’s not an easy thing to take apart the facade of a building and put it back together somewhere else,” Miller said.

the facade of a Burnham-designed building at 1217-1227 W. Washington.

Preservation Chicago tried to find someone willing to remove and save the facade of a Burnham-designed building at 1217 W. Washington Blvd., but in the end, the building was demolished. | Taylor Hartz/Sun-Times

The facade, constructed with white glazed brick, wood and sheet metal, featured an ornate topper.

Developer Phil Denny of Peppercorn Capital owns the property and applied for a demolition permit in 2017. Despite the building’s “orange” rating as “potentially significant,” which triggered a review by the city, Denny’s permit was ultimately approved in late January.

A message left for Denny at Peppercorn Capital, which also owns 1201 W. Washington Blvd., home of Sun-Times Media, was not immediately returned.

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) said he was not even aware a historic building in his ward was in jeopardy, let alone got knocked down.

“If they had reached out to me I would have looked into it,” he said during a phone call Monday afternoon.

A representative of Precision Excavation and Demolition, a contractor working on the site, was not immediately available.

Site of building with historic Daniel Burnham facade at 1217 W. Washington Blvd. that was destroyed

Preservation Chicago in January had sounded the alarm about the fate of a building at 1217 W. Washington Blvd., but the building was torn down in late April. The developer had said he was willing to let the group save the facade if they could find someone to do it. | John O’Neill/Sun-Times

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