Commission on Chicago Landmarks Honors Outstanding Preservation Projects

In a reception held today at the Chicago Athletic Association, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks will honor four MHA Midwest projects among their 2016 Preservation Excellence Award winners. The Commission’s annual Preservation Excellence Awards recognize outstanding rehabilitation projects that involve notable improvements to Chicago local landmarks.


Nichols Tower at Homan Square

Located in Chicago’s West Side community of North Lawndale, the 14-story Nichols Tower at Homan Square was originally known as the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Merchandise Building Tower, the tallest structure within the Sears Company’s former administrative headquarters and mail-order complex. Part of the Foundation for Homan Square’s initiative to re-envision the abandoned complex and revitalize the surrounding community, the seven-year $17 million rehabilitation of the Tower was completed in the fall of 2015. Retaining many of its original features and finishes, the 14-story building now houses multiple non-profit organizations and a 14th floor observation room for community use. MHA Midwest served as historic tax credit consultant on the project and prepared the building’s local landmark designation.


ARC at Old Colony

Client | CA Ventures LLC and MCJ Development

Originally constructed as a downtown office building in 1893, Chicago’s Old Colony Building continued to house office tenants into the 2010s but lost its historic appeal due to many outdated renovations. CA Ventures LLC acquired the building in 2014 and completed a $61 million rehabilitation including restoration of the building’s masonry facades and the uncovering of the long-hidden main entrance archway and columns. Inside, CA Ventures LLC transformed the 17-story Old Colony Building into ARC at Old Colony, a 204-unit student housing complex with restored entry lobbies at the ground floor, and historic 1890s office features incorporated into upper floor residential units. The sensitive rehabilitation of the Old Colony Building has ensured the future of one of Chicago’s earliest skyscrapers for decades to come. MHA Midwest served as historic tax credit consultant on the project.


Chicago Athletic Association

Located along historic Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, the Venetian Gothic style Chicago Athletic Association (CAA) was completed in 1893 as a private athletic club for men (and in the late 20th century, women) of the Chicago elite until 2007. AJ Capital Partners and Commune Hotels & Resorts took ownership of the vacant CAA in 2012 and transformed the intricately detailed structure into a 241-room hotel that opened in May 2016. The rehabilitation restored the terra cotta and brick façade, and rehabilitated interior features bas-relief woodcarving, 19th century stained glass, and ornate marble staircases. Historic club rooms and athletic facilities have been transformed into new hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, event spaces and fitness areas, and a new sensitive rooftop addition houses a new bar with spectacular views of Chicago’s Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. MHA Midwest served as historic tax credit consultant on the project.


Chicago Motor Club

Client | MB Real Estate

As American automobile ownership expanded in the early twentieth century, the Chicago Motor Club was a downtown haven for early cross-country motorists. This 1928 Art Deco gem housed club offices along with a grand three-story high lobby lined with help counters and a large 29 foot-wide road map painted by artist John Warner Norton. After standing vacant for over a decade and threatened with demolition, MB Real Estate purchased the building in 2014 and undertook a $38 million rehabilitation that converted the 17-story Chicago Motor Club to a 143-key hotel. In addition to extensive exterior rehabilitation, the three-story ground floor lobby, including the large Norton mural, was restored. A 1928 Model A was installed on a lobby mezzanine as a nod to the year the Chicago Motor Club opened its doors. Rehab architects Hartshorne Plunkard created an exquisite LEED-certified design that provided modern hotel accommodations while preserving the building’s original Art Deco features. MHA Midwest served as historic tax credit consultant on the project.