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Extinction By the Rails

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 16, 2005 8:25PM

hayeshealy.jpgRed and Brown line commuters passing through Lincoln Park were likely startled by the sudden demolition of DePaul University’s Hayes-Healy Athletic Center. The 76 year-old Gothic structure (pictured, right) abutting the el tracks just south of the Fullerton stop met the wrecking ball last week despite the best efforts of Preservation Chicago, who included the structure on their “Seven Most Threatened Buildings” for 2006.

That this structure won’t even stand at the end of 2005 marks the final chapter of a sad story authored by the CTA. This week’s Reader points out that the demolition was all sorts of illegal. The City granted the agency an invalid demolition permit listing an incorrect address and failed to provide the landmarks department the opportunity to delay destruction of this “orange rated” (historically significant) building, as per City ordinance.

The Brown Line Expansion will allow all stations on the route to accommodate eight-car trains, so as to alleviate overcrowding. Among other things, the plan will transform the Fullerton station into a “superstructure” with wider platforms and elevators. Chicagoist wonders just how much larger the station has to be, particularly when it already accommodates 8-car trains. We’ve seen the CTA transform other stations—the Western brown line, Western-O’Hare blue line, the Green Line Lake Ave branch—without major disruption to the surrounding area. Why must they abandon that blueprint for a more expensive project posing more inconvenience to riders, neighborhoods and their residents while potentially prompting yet another round of fare increases?

Seriously, why? Chicagoist is stumped and welcomes your explanations.