Sunday, September 8, 2013

Call To Action: Landmark Status Needed For 4015-17 N. Sheridan

In case you missed it, Thorek Hospital has purchased the building at 4015-17 N. Sheridan that was home to Nick's Uptown. Thorek's track record for saving buildings on this corner is abysmal. This building is rated "orange" by the city which means that any permit for demolition would be put on a 90 day hold status while it is determined whether or not the building has any historic value to stop any pending demolition.
According to this, the building is one of two on the northside that feature "Egyptian Revival" architecture that was all the rage in the 1920's so it has significant architectural value.

What can you do? Several things.

1) Contact the Chicago Commission on Landmarks by completing this form. They can also be reached at 312-744-3200. Top priority is getting this building "landmarked" by the city.

2) Contact Amy Keller from the Chicago Art Deco Society. She has mentioned her love for the building and wants to get that organization behind saving it. She can be reached on Facebook or by emailing

3) Contact Ald. Cappleman's office and let him know you want this building saved. His office can be reached at 773-878-4646 or send an email at

4) Contact Buena Park Neighbors Block Club and get them involved in the landmark process of this building in their boundaries. Email them at or visit their Facebook page.


  1. Why shouldn't Thorek be allowed to buy the building and take over the space? If other people feel so strongly about the property, why don't you pool together your money? Just because a small group of people feel a few bricks and some columns are culturally significant, the hospital should be held hostage? There is nothing that special about this facade that warrants a waste of taxpayer dollars to go through committees and studies and hearings. Stop wasting our tax dollars on your whims.

  2. You're right Jorge. Our taxpayer money shouldn't be wasted, but currently this building ADDS to the neighborhood, tax base, street wall, etc. You know what WON'T? An empty lot. If Thorek was serious about doing something with their property, they would've done something already. They have a huge expanse of parking lot to build addition(s) in, why would they build something as far away from their current building as possible? IF, and I say IF, Thorek was smart, they wouldn't have torn down the neighboring apartment building until they planned on using the land. They could've MADE money renting those units out, and again contributing to Chicago's tax base, but instead they took that property away from the city to put...NOTHING on it. NOTHING that adds tax money, NOTHING that improves the street wall, and NOTHING that improves the neighborhood!

  3. Let me bring some facts into this discussion.

    Yesterday I looked up public records for this property.

    The owner was paying around $32,000 a year in property taxes.

    If Thorek tears this down and the property remains vacant and tax exempt that's $32,000 a year in taxes that other taxpayers have to make up for. Couple this with all the other property Thorek has torn down over the last decade or so and we may be looking at $100,000 a year in property taxes that are not being paid on property that is "exempt".

    The building seemingly last sold for $400,000 in the year 2000. No records of any more recent sale have been posted yet. Given the property taxes being paid I'd estimate the property sold for around 1.5 million dollars plus. Time will tell how right or wrong I am on that as soon as the records are updated.

    Now contrary to what Jorge suggests landmarking this property would likely not cost taxpayers a whole lot of money. The committees and processes are in place already.

    Allowing Thorek to tear down the building and keep the land vacant for years........that would cost.

    Generally I'm not a pro preservation kind of pirate, but this building is one of the last of its kind in Chicago. If Thorek eventually wants to build they can build above and around it easily enough. They could even perform a "facadeectomy". Where the front of the building is saved and a completely new structure is built behind it. It's been done downtown on Michigan Avenue and other local locations.

    I'm unsure of what the rationale is behind Thorek acquiring as much property as they can in that little section of Buena Park. As medicine improves hospital stays are shorter and shorter. Look at all the area hospitals that have closed over the last twenty years or so. Martha Washington. Ravenswood. Edgewater, Various hospitals in Lincoln Park and probably some others I'm forgetting.

    Perhaps they plan to exit the hospital business and sell the property out to some developer for midrise or highrise development. As long as they save the facade of Nick's I would be very happy with that outcome. We could use additional people in our fine Uptown neighborhood and a high density building there would almost inevitably be better looking and a better neighbor than a hospital that has to be prodded to maintain and landscape various parts of their properties.

  4. One more thing.

    I would bet a substantial amount of money, if betting was legal, that this property will be landmarked. The facts and the politics are on the side of the pro preservation side.

    Add in the fact that Thorek has proven to be a less than perfect neighbor over the last decade or so and there aren't many people going to be on their side.

    Rahm is clearly looking to avoid controversy as we're a mere 17 months from the February 2015 election. He's running scared and considering his charming personality he should be. If a semi credible candidate runs against him he faces a reasonable chance of being a 9.5 fingered former Mayor come 2015.

    As for Cappleman I'm guessing that he will see saving this building as the intersection of good policy and good politics. He's less likely to face a serious opponent than Rahm A Damn A 9.5 Fingered Ding Dong, but it's possible that I'm wrong.

    Perhaps somewhere in the dark swamp of Uptown politics something evil is brewing. Perhaps in early 2014 some Shillerista Swamp Thing will announce his or her candidacy on a platform of perdition, pornography, obstruction, subversion and free cupcakes.

    May God Save Those of Us Who Survive!

  5. I would rather go to a vet than get treated at Thorek. It reminds me of Cook County Hospital in the 1970's (which is another beautiful building that will probably be torn down).

  6. Can we quit ripping on Thorek's quality of care please? Sorry if *you* had a less than stellar experience, but they they managed to stabilize my child's asthma attack (we did not have time to get down to Children's) very well -- on Christmas, no less. And, AND, our nurse told the old drunk cussing man in the next cubicle to shut up because there was a child (ours) in the next cubicle over. They may not be the prettiest place, but in a pinch, I have nothing but good things to say about the ER care.

    Now as far as property owners... yeah, they sort of suck.

  7. This is one of the best posts ever on an already terrific and community-oriented blogs. I am very grateful for the list of the steps I can take to help preserve this bit of our architectural heritage.

    Enough already with the vacant lots and diminishing tax base!

  8. There's nothing positive to say about Thorek... my concern is will BPN respond? They receive significant financial contributions from Thorek. Hopefully this won't just go down "the Chicago way".

    1. I find it quite interesting that the BPN beautifucation awards are sponsored by Thorek given their penchant for creating parking lots.

    2. Agreed... Uptown Rising... although I might use the word... "ironic"...

  9. Posted to BPN FB with James also tagged...
    So, BPN, what are you going to do or otherwise take a position regarding the Nick's Uptown purchase by Thorek. I'm sure our Alderman James would love to hear from you. Their wrecking ball has terrorized the south side of our neighborhood for years, starting with the former McDonald's at Irving and Cuyler, the buildings across from Irving off Fremont, then the two buildings on the corner of Irving and Sheridan... a wasteland is what they have created. What are you going to do about it or are we just going to let yet another historic gem fall under their tyranny and big pocket book (which is a mystery to me -- the pocketbook that is given no one would ever choose to go there willingly) Also, I'd love to help in any effort to help preserve the Nick's building. Albeit their significant financial contributions to BPN --it's time to take a stand -- a stand that preserves the Nick's building. - Signed, Former and Founding President of BPN (who still lives in the neighborhood)

  10. CC,

    Let's give the Capplemaniac and his staff a few days to figure out what legally can and cannot be done with this issue. As for BPN just because they take money from Thorek doesn't mean they won't stand up to Thorek on this issue.

    In the past the buildings Thorek acquired and turned into parking lots or "underlandscaped" lots had no likely legitimate claim to "landmark" status. This Egyptian themed building does have a likely claim. The other buildings couldn't walk like an Egyptian so to speak. In other words there was likely no legal basis to attempt to stop Thorek from demolishing the properties.

    If the BPN Board decides to support Thorek on this I suspect there will be another BPN board elected at the first available opportunity. Thorek and their policy of knocking down buildings is a cancer on that section of Buena Park.

    Ultimately the only good I could forsee from that overall policy would be Thorek selling their "campus" to a for profit housing developer. With the EL stop right there that's an ideal location for some high density housing.

    Perhaps Uptown Rising, architect and all around asset to Uptown, could design a wonderful building. The building could even be named "Uptown Rising" and be a beacon to our crime plagued neighbors in Lakeview to move north.

    Of course if that happened there would be other complaints coming from the Uptown Peanut Gallery about the height or density of the building or the influx of refugees from Tunneystan.

    Oh well let's see how this plays out over the next week or so.

    My opinion is simple.

    Some people ask WWJD--What Would Jesus Do.

    Some people ask WWJLD--What Would Jean Luc Picard Do.

    It's time for the people of Uptown to send this Picardian message to Thorek.

  11. I think the old Cuneo Hospital on Clarendon & Montrose is more architecturally significant than Nick's. Why can't we save both? I watched the old Palacio theater be torn down on Sheridan almost across the street from Nick's. It if it's historic and beautiful, tear it down? Huh? What is wrong with this city?