CONSTRUCTION BEGINS AT BUCKTOWN MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT

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Demolition is complete and construction is underway at our Logan Square/Bucktown mixed use project.

Working with our client, Baum Revision, we are completely renovating the iconic Margie’s Candies and former bank building at the intersection of Milwaukee – Western – Armitage Avenues. Our plans include redeveloping the historic 29,000 square foot building into a mixed use space containing twenty residential apartments and ground floor commercial suites. A diverse mix of independent and local retail businesses, including the legendary Margie’s Candies, will occupy the commercial spaces on the ground level.

HISTORIC BANK AND MARGIE’S CANDIES BUILDING

The two-story, limestone facade building was built around 1911 and home to First Securities Bank, Main Bank and a host of other financial institutions. As the banking industry succumbed to market pressures, the latest iteration was squeezed out and the doors closed permanently.

Like any hasty move, items that identify with its inhabitants were abandoned like an underperforming Walmart. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. In true adaptive reuse form, the once gleaming bank vaults will morph into a grandiose space inside one of the planned retail units. When working on adaptive reuse projects, it’s exciting when we uncover and discover treasures, like massive fire proof vaults with safe-deposit boxes, even if they’re empty. And if we can’t recycle it, we’ll find a solution and create a second life for objects and any discarded materials.

Vaults too heavy to move remain in place
From left: clay tile wall — old boiler

Margie’s Candies is the only remaining tenant in the building and it’s been a neighborhood landmark since the 1920’s. Originally founded as ” Security Sweet Shop”, Margie’s opened the doors to their confectionary in 1921. In 1933, the sweet shop was renamed to Margies Candies, in honor of the owner’s wife, and it’s been a Chicago sweet-tooth institution ever since. Step inside and step back in time. Old-timey jukeboxes, original Tiffany lamps and old fashioned soda fountains, relics from the past, are still part of the interior charm.

During a time when independent businesses are being pushed out of their leased spaces, due to rising rents, it’s refreshing to see a family-owned, neighborhood restaurant remain in place. We just don’t need another homogenous coffee shop, do we? I’ll take a kitchen sink sundae, anytime, over a non-fat, vanilla frappiata, whatever.

MIXED USE TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a type of sustainable urban community development that includes a mixture of residential housing, commercial and retail business, green space and other amenities located near public transportation. This type of design is aimed at increasing density and encouraging mass transit usage. In 2013, Chicago passed the city’s first ordinance to stimulate development in transit zones. The ordinance allowed for increased building height and reduced parking requirements. In 2015, the ordinance was amended to include language that encourages affordable housing development, further reduces parking requirements, and increases both floor area ratio (FAR) and height area.

To support the Chicago TOD initiative, the Metropolitan Planning Council developed a website that has information, study findings and recommendations based on their Grow Chicago study. Included is an interactive TOD map where you can view properties ready for development and those that qualify for increased density and reduced parking minimums.

The Blue Line is within walking distance and visible from the building

Since the Margie’s building is located near the Western Blue Line “L” station, and meets TOD criteria, we are able to reduce the parking requirement to zero. The process was streamlined by filing a variance and getting approval from the Zoning Board of appeals. Without the TOD designation, we would be required to include twenty parking spaces into the design. Freeing up that valuable space allowed us to allocated additional square footage for the residential units.

UNCOVERING AND REUSING

As with our other adaptive reuse projects, we start by stripping the interior spaces down to their bones. What remains is a beautiful open space and a view into the structure of the building. Once we’ve exposed the inner workings, we start setting the plumbing and electrical lines and framing out the walls.

Exposed first floor concrete ceiling
Interior framing installation around existing steel beams
Plumbing lines being installed

Triangular shaped buildings are both interesting and challenging. From a design perspective, it isn’t the most ideal form to work with (acute angles and all) and we were tasked with figuring out a solution to create functional residential units and common areas throughout.

To achieve this, we carved out an irregular corridor space in the least desirable area of the second floor with the remaining space parceled out to the studio and one-bedroom residential units. This approach yields twenty dwelling units with a private lobby entrance off of Milwaukee Avenue. The first floor will house five retail spaces with the salvaged bank vaults intact, and the existing, inefficient windows will be replaced with new storefront glazing.

New corner retail space

The 100 year exterior survived the harsh Chicago weather but is in desperate need of a major refresh. Areas where the stone has deteriorated and isn’t salvageable will be replaced with new stone. The sketches below show the stone improvement detail

From left: existing facade — facade masonry repair details
From left: birds-eye view facade repair — interior entry sketch

The existing roof is completely closed off and the plan includes making it an amenity for the tenants. The entire building will be topped with a large new skylight and a common roof deck oriented towards downtown.

Barren rooftop is being transformed into an inviting common rooftop deck with a view

With warmer temps, construction progress is moving along. Below are additional construction photos and we’ll post project updates on social.

Second floor post demo, planning for new floor openings
Cutting the concrete slab for new shaft openings
Second floor demo