Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 9, 1937 -- Field Estate initiates Building Swap

August 9, 1937 – The rarest of real estate deals occurs when two of the city’s skyscrapers are swapped with no brokers involved in the transaction and with no commission fees paid.  The Marshall Field estate trades the 19-story Times building at 211 West Wacker Drive for the sixteen-story Central Life Insurance Company building at the southwest corner of North Michigan Avenue and East Superior Street.  A representative of the Field estate says that through the acquisition of the Central Life building it now owns the entire block bounded by Michigan, Huron, Rush and Superior.  Through the swap the insurance company will be able to consolidate all of its operations, scattered in various leased spaces in the area, in the Wacker Drive building.  The property on Wacker Drive, shown above, a Holabird and Root design, is still making money.  Saks Fifth Avenue now occupies the corner of Superior and Michigan where the Central Life building used to stand.

August 9, 1972:  A traffic study is released that concludes “Traffic conditions in the Near North Michigan Avenue area will be ‘nearly intolerable’ if the city constructs a bridge over the Chicago River at Columbus Drive.”  The report, prepared for the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association by R. W. Booker and Associates, partially validates a report issued earlier in the week by the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  The report observes that the city has not planned well in proposing a bridge that will connect Fairbanks Court north of the river with Columbus Drive and the developing Illinois Center property to the south.  Taking a special hit is the massive traffic jam that is anticipated during the lengthy reconstruction of the dogleg on Lake Shore Drive north of Randolph Street.  The report makes six recommendations to relieve problems in the River North area if the bridge is built.  They include:  (1) employing rapid transit or people mover systems in the area; (2) widening Fairbanks Court and making it one way south, in the area north of Ontario Street; (3) better enforcement of peak traffic rules and parking regulations in the area; (4) eliminating on-street parking in the area and creating new off-street parking areas; (5) making Ontario and Ohio Streets one way between Fairbanks and Lake Shore Drive and developing grade separation of these two streets with Lake Shore Drive; and (6) making thoro (sic) studies of alternate methods of handling traffic during the reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive, including staged construction to permit continued, limited use of the Drive.  [Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1972]  The bridge was finished in 1982 for a cost of $33,000,000, bringing almost instantaneous development of the area north of the river and east of Columbus Drive.

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