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UPTOWN CHICAGO COMMISSION

Uptown Chicago Commission Position Statement

Historical Preservation

ISSUE:

Uptown is currently experiencing rapid growth. As development continues, we encourage developers to give special consideration to historic resources within our community and in particular to the National Register Historic Districts. We also want these developers to communicate with the neighborhood organizations to share their plans, to understand how proposed developments could impact the community.

BACKGROUND:

Uptown has experienced several periods of intense development over the last 150 years. In the late 1800s the land was rural and suburban. The second growth phase came in the early 20th century with residential construction filling in the open land, with associated development of retail and entertainment venues. For a brief period in the early 1900's, Uptown was a center for silent film production, prior to its move west to California. In the 1960s growth continued with the construction of high rises through much of the community. As we enter the 21st century, Uptown is once again poised for substantial growth in the form of renovation of these older buildings and new construction.

The Broadway/Lawrence Entertainment District TIF is focused on trying to preserve and promote important arts establishments in keeping with Uptown's historical roots. In addition, there are three National Register Historic Districts including; Sheridan Park, Buena Park, and Uptown Square. However, while there has been a designation of historic buildings and districts, these do not provide protection from demolition or require community input. There is only a small part of Uptown, along its eastern boundaries, subject to the Lakefront Protection Requirement which has a community review component, and the tiny area of Hutchinson Street, which is a designated Chicago Landmark District, whose status does carry strong protection rights.

As development continues it is important to recognize and understand the need for compromise in a community such as Uptown so that growth and development can continue.

UCC POSITION:

The UCC has general guidelines when considering development opportunities that impact historically significant buildings and districts:

  • While the UCC strongly supports growth and development in Uptown, the UCC also favors the preservation of existing historically significant structures whenever feasible. The UCC will work to identify options for preservation.

  • Public money should rarely be used to raze historically significant buildings.

  • New construction should complement the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Developments should harmonize with the existing buildings, with regard to height, mass, setback, and materials.

  • Developers should communicate with the local block clubs well in advance of applying for zoning changes or building permits to ensure a positive development experience.

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