Commission punts vote tied to demolition plan on State Street

Safety and security concerns leave statuses in limbo

Chief judge of the Northern District of Illinois' Rebecca Pallmeyer with 202 and 220 South State Street
Chief judge of the Northern District of Illinois' Rebecca Pallmeyer with 202 and 220 South State Street (Loopnet, Getty, Law U Chicago)

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks isn’t ready to decide the fate of Century and Consumers buildings on State Street.

City historic preservation staff presented arguments for how the two buildings, at 202 and 220 South State Street, should qualify for landmark status, Urbanize Chicago reported. But the commission is delaying a vote that would give those buildings such a designation. If approved, it would halt plans by General Services Administration, which wants to spend $52 million in federal funds to demolish the towers.

Built in 1913, the Consumers Building was designed by Mundie and Jensen as a professional office building with lower floor retail. In 1916, the Century Building, designed by Holabird & Roche, was completed as an early urban mall. Each of the towers were built in the commercial style with the tradition of Chicago School.

The GSA told the commission that it would remain neutral on the decision and, in the meantime, impartially conduct the Section 106 process from the National Historic Preservation Act, which looks at viable demolition alternatives.

There has been a call to raze the centenarian buildings due to safety and security concerns for the adjacent Dirksen Courthouse at 219 South Dearborn Street.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Hon. Rebecca Pallmeyer, chief judge of the Northern District of Illinois, issued a statement reiterating her concerns about safety and saying that there is a public benefit to tearing the buildings down and reconfiguring the entrance to the courthouse.

The chairman for the commission chose to delay the vote due to the issues raised. However, he said that he agrees the buildings meet landmark designation criteria, but wants the structures to be rehabilitated in a way that provides “reasonable and necessary security” for the courthouse.

The landmarks staff will work with city and federal agencies to determine specific safety issues the buildings pose to the courthouse while GSA continues looking at alternatives.

Read more

Victoria Pruitt