Developer seeks to demolish historic building in Milwaukee Ave. Landmark District in Wicker Park


1501 N. Milwaukee is the corner building. The mural is on a fence in front of the 1505 property

Owner of the property at 1505 N. Milwaukee, Steve Lipe, Lipe Property Company, and his architect Brent Norsman, Norsman Architects, presented a proposal to the Wicker Park Committee's (WPC) Preservation and Development (P and D) Committee to demolish the building at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District at a meeting this week.

Lipe indicated that he has a contract on the 1501 building but is not the owner. In a 6-page document, Lipe lists a myriad of reasons why the building should be allowed to be demolished. The document begins with a description of building features in the City's Landmark Designation Report for the Milwaukee Avenue District. It then moves to "1501 N Milwaukee Avenue -- Non-contributing."


This 1966 photo shows1501 N. Milwaukee is on the corner. To the left is the original 1505 building.

In fact, the Report lists it as potentially contributing and the preliminary opinion of the City's Historic Preservation Division Staff is that the building is contributing. That opinion is based on the facts that it was built in 1881 during the period of significance for this landmark district and its commercial use was part of the historic development of this commercial corridor. The building was originally a butcher shop with residential above.


Option #1

Lipe's presentation went on to discuss such things as how poor the condition of the building is, how nothing much is left of the original building and how this building does not enhancing the vibrancy of the district.

Landmarks' staff on the other hand has indicated that though the building's current vinyl siding, windows, and storefronts are not historic, these could easily be restored/replaced to bring the facade back to its original design.


Option #2

In his packet of information, Lipe showed two potential elevations showing both 1505 and 1501 N. Milwaukee. In Option 1, a new building spans both properties. In Option 2, 1501 is shown with the current elevation and a new structure on the north side (1505).

WPC's P and D Committee voted unanimously in opposition to the proposal. Many members felt that, as it is across the country, demolition of a contributing building in an historic district should not be discussed because "it is not allowed." 

Though Lipe is scheduled to be presenting at the Landmarks Permit Review Committee on Oct. 3, that is to apply only to the construction of the building at 1505 N. Milwaukee Ave.

It has been noted that the price of the 1501 property, without a structure on it, would be more than with the structure. One architect felt that the ratio of value to price (cost) is 10 to 1.




Developer seeks to demolish historic building in Milwaukee Ave.

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