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Michigan Avenue Development Project Could Displace Billy Goat Tavern For A Spell

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Nov 12, 2013 9:45PM

Photo credit: Tripp

An ambitious project to turn one of Michigan Avenue’s iconic buildings into a mixed-use “destination building” could have some short-term consequences for tourists and local media folk. The National Association of Realtors board unanimously approved a plan to raze its 13-story building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. and replace it with a new building including a high-end hotel, condominiums, office and retail space and an open plaza.

The proposed new building would be mirrored after the NAR’s New York City-based project and could be as much as 93 stories high. The NAR would also relocate its headquarters to Chicago which the Emanuel administration would surely tout in a press release as another sign the mayor is bringing jobs to Chicago if this project gets the green light. The NAR has an unnamed partner in the project. Pamela Monroe, chair of NAR’s Real Property Operations Committee, would only say the group is “a world-class partner with premium credentials” that is “very private” and “extremely well-capitalized.” The Realtor building is one of the few properties remaining on North Michigan Avenue that hasn’t been developed in recent years and the NAR bought the building behind it that houses 437 Rush restaurant.

NAR is going out of its way to ensure the Billy Goat a place in the new development, since it’s located directly below the Realtor Building. If the project moves forward the original tavern would be temporarily displaced but NAR spokeswoman Stephanie Singer told the Tribune accommodations would be made for the Billy Goat to return.

That’s a cold comfort to Billy Goat owner Sam Sianis who said, “Like the Realtors, I’m part of Michigan Avenue.” Still, Sianis has reason for concern; who's to say if the NAR would renege its assurances the restaurant could return to the site?