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South Side Building Update: Sad

By JoshMogerman in News on Oct 26, 2014 6:30PM

"Come on Pilgrim" [jmogs]

This week’s Chicagoist 10-year anniversary party had us looking back at the site’s archives. One thing that popped out was the need to update coverage of some interesting South Side architecture previously facing peril or perhaps positive change. Sadly, there is not a ton of good news to report:

The most hopeful story is also the most recent—in the spring, we told you about the South Loop’s Harriet F. Rees house being moved to make way for the new DePaul Arena. In early October, the property's coach house was rolled a couple blocks north into the Prairie Avenue District. It will be reunited with the large grey stone mansion when the house takes to wheels in the first week of November.

This summer, we looked at the effort a mile-and-a-half south of the Rees House to find remnants of buildings from one of Chicago’s ugliest historical spots: Camp Douglas. Last week, a historical marker was dedicated on the Camp Douglas site. Additional archeological exploration was done behind the Pershing School in the hopes of building momentum for an eventual museum in the GAP neighborhood.

Just a few blocks away, though, one of the most stunning pieces of real estate in the entire city remains an expensive wasteland. The former Michael Reese Hospital site, perched at the edge of the Lake between McCormick Place and 31st Street has been eliminated from discussions of potential sites for both the Obama Presidential Library and George Lucas’ museum. Meanwhile, the city made its first debt payment for the Reese site—hastily purchased and demolished in hopes that it would host the 2016 Olympic Village. Chicago has borrowed $21 million to pay debt service for the site and according to the Trib, taxpayers could be on the hook for $134 million over the next decade…sigh.

Not too far away from Reese, there had been noise about redevelopment of the Motor Row section of south Michigan Avenue. But little has visibly changed in the area. Things may have gotten a bit more complicated this week, as Chinatown restaurateur Tony Hu is a key figure in the plan. The federal raids on his restaurants this week may be nothing.

Sadly, there are no updates on a pair of historically important sites we have been following. The Rosenwald Apartments on 47th Street and steel-braced shell of the Adler & Sullivan-designed Pilgrim Baptist Church on Indiana continue to molder away.

At least they still exist though.