Friday, April 12, 2019

April 12, 1982 -- Cobbler Square, Cafe Brauer Off and Running with Grant Announcement

Cafe Brauer
Cobbler Square
April 12, 1982 -- The Chicago Tribune reports that the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the city two grants, totaling $5 million.  The first grant of $1.5 million will be used to begin the renovation of the Cafe Brauer in Lincoln Park.  The second $3.5 million grant will be used to convert the old Dr. Scholl’s plant in Old Town into a mixed-use development with enclosed parking.  The plan for Cafe Brauer is to turn it into a 28,000-square-foot facility that will seat 565 people indoors with space for 410 more at outdoor tables.  The renovation is expected to cost over $8.5 million with $5 million coming from Chicago Park District bonds and another $2 million coming from Lakefront Park Concession Ltd., the developer which will complete the project.  Plans for the abandoned Dr. Scholl’s plant include a conversion into 59 commercial condominium units, commercial rental space, 146 residential condominiums and 178 indoor parking spaces.  The total cost of the project is expected to cost $22.5 million. The plan for Cafe Brauer, as is the case in so many such proposals, was scaled back significantly. CafĂ© Brauer opened in 1908 as a restaurant managed by Paul and Caspar Brauer.  It is a magnificent example of the Prairie style of architecture, executed by a master of the style, Dwight Heald Perkins.  The restaurant closed in 1947 and by the 1960’s the building, including its second-floor ballroom was used mostly for storage by the Chicago Park District, which had a plan to operate the building as a restaurant and event space with an outdoor dance pavilion.  That plan was modified in 1987 when the park district began a restoration project that saw the rehabilitation of the second-floor ballroom as a space for private events and a make-over of the first floor into a restaurant and ice cream parlor.  The Dr. Scholl’s project ended up taking over two-dozen interconnected warehouse and factory warehouses, constructed between 1880 and 1965, and creating 297 rental apartments out of the complex.  Architect Kenneth A. Schroeder and developer Richard Perlman undertook an ambitious renovation effort to create what today is known as Cobbler Square.  When the renovation was completed in 1985 Chicago Tribune architecture critic Paul Gapp said of the project, “Schroeder’s classy overall design performance is all the more a happy event because Cobbler Square has immediately become a large and rather crucial new element in the area bounded by Wells, La Salle and Division Streets and North Avenue … [it] is among the best additions to the neighborhood in recent years – a vehicle of gentrification, actually.” [Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1985]

April 12, 1960 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Chicago Park District will convert an abandoned Nike missile site at Twenty-Eighth Street and Michigan Avenue to a recreational area as soon as officials at Ft. Sheridan deliver the key.  Daniel L. Flaherty, the park district’s general superintendent, says that the city has been waiting for the key to the 16-acre fenced-in area since the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its intention to abandon the site.  The Chicago area, one of the larger Nike missile regions in the nation, had about 20 such bases.  The earliest Nike missiles had a fairly short range which required a ring of overlapping bases in close proximity to one another.  The early missiles, developed in the early 1950’s, were marginally capable of shooting down enemy aircraft, but they could not defend against incoming missiles.  The next generation of Nike, the Hercules, could carry a nuclear warhead, but despite its newer technology, it, too, was thought to be inadequate for protection against a missile attack.  By the mid-1960’s methods of transporting the missiles and its support equipment from one site to another were developed, and the use of fixed launching sites gradually began to end.  Additionally, the Soviet Union’s movement away from a large bomber force made the Nike less and less practical.  By 1969 there were only 82 sites left in the whole country out of the original group of 240.  By 1974 there were none.  The site acquired by the park district in 1960 appears to be just south of today’s Dunbar Park as can be seen in the above photo.

April 12, 1896 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that Sheridan Road has been improved from Lincoln Park to Edgewater.  Another section of the road, from Evanston to Fort Sheridan, also has been completed.  There is a two-mile stretch through Rogers Park that has been laid out, but which still is “simply a sandy, dusty street, which no one cares to travel on.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 12, 1896]  The article urges voters of Rogers Park to vote for the establishment of a North Shore Park District that will take charge of the part of Rogers Park east of Ridge Avenue.  Establishment of such a board in the election, to be held in the upcoming week, would be positive, the paper asserts, allowing a representative body to improve Sheridan Road and other roads like it, perhaps even establishing a park on the lake shore.  The new Sheridan Road ended at the Fort Sheridan tower which at the time was less than ten years old itself.  The tower is pictured in 1900 in the above photo.

April 12, 1955 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that "the world's greatest exposition center" was proposed at a meeting the previous evening at the first civic meeting that Richard J. Daley attended since his election on April 5. Daley says of the $34 million project, "This is one of those bold, imaginative, and comprehensive projects needed for the continued progress of Chicago." The new exposition center will be located at Twenty-Second Street and the lakefront in approximately the same location that the Century of Progress World's Fair was held in the summers of 1933 and 1934. Ralph H. Burke of Ralph H. Burke, Inc., who worked on the project with the architectural firm of Holabird, Root & Burgee, estimates that the facility will produce an income of $2.6 million the year it opens. "It will not only put Chicago in front, but will pay its way while doing it," Burke says. [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 12, 1955]

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