MCZ proposes to build "as of right" on historic dairy site: Leona's


Rendering shows proposed white facade with new 5-story structure behind


Shows space between facade and new structure

Most likely MCZ Development's proposed five-story, 16 three-bedroom condo project will occupy the original early 1900's home of Pure Farm Products Company, Chicago's only Ukrainian dairy*, at 1936-44 W. Augusta Blvd. Current plans for what has been Leona's restaurant since 1985, were presented at East Village Association's August meeting Monday evening at Happy Village, 1059 N Wolcott Ave. 

With 16 parking spaces at ground level and eight bicycle spaces, they are building "as of right," but asking for two reliefs. One is a 12.5 foot setback at the rear of the building, instead of 30, and another regarding off street loading. 


Ramiel Kenoun

Ramiel Kenoun, Principal, Space Architects + Planners, described the new structure as mimicking the original 1890's two-flat which was part of the dairy. While paying an homage to the building's history, they propose keeping the white brick façade wall, replicating ornamentation along its top edge as pictured in an historic photo. In addition the plan turns the asymmetrical façade into a symmetrical one with a center entrance. The new structure would be set back from the front wall. 

With four units per floor, each unit is approximately 1,520 square feet except for two second floor duplex units which are approximately 740 square foot spaces. All have two baths except for the duplex units which have three. 

There are to be roof decks and balconies as well as a private yard for each of the two duplex units. 

Materials for the new structure's exterior walls is to be face brick on the front and common brick on the east and west walls. The back wall is also expected to be common brick. 


Todd Mullen

In reply to a question from Catherine Garypie about sourcing any broken white brick, Todd Mullen, MCZ Development, explained that they would search for old replacement brick, pointing out that it would have to be within a reasonable cost factor. He went on to say that the worst-case scenario would be that they would have to rebuild the entire façade with new white bricks. 


Nick Ftikas

Asked about the number of affordable units, MCZ's attorney Nick Ftikas of Samuel V. P. Banks, explained that because they are not asking for a zoning change, the affordable requirement does not apply. In addition, their B2-3 zoning allows the owner to determine if they will have a mix of commercial and residential in the building. MCZ has chosen to have residential use only. 


Brian Foote

Brian Foote, the Chair of EVA's Planning and Development Committee expressed his gratitude for MCZ's cooperation in a long term process of vetting this project, "We are appreciative that the developer chose to work with the community and found ways to preserve some of the neighborhood’s past history in their new project. It was an open and collaborative conversation throughout and many of our thoughts and concerns were addressed within the design. Hopefully it can serve as an example that adaptive reuse can be a successful strategy toward project development." 

After approval from the Chicago Landmarks Commission, MCZ will put in a demolition order for everything on the site except for approximately ten feet of the façade. 


The current structure

Historic background
Architect and EVA member Scott Rappe explained earlier about the East Village Landmark District boundaries. According to him, the boundaries were thoughtfully and carefully pared down to include only the most important buildings in the core of the neighborhood. "It is difficult to understand why the district was extended across an alley to include the Leona’s building, only to then designate it as non-contributing." 

Rappe said that declaring 1944-36 W. Augusta as non-contributing was inconsistent with the condition, quality and local historic significance of the building. Thus he and others supported the East Village Landmark District believe that the Landmark's Commission should have changed the non-contributing designation. 

While many took the fight to the Landmarks Commission, they would not change the status and a demolition order was put in place.

Alderman Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward, with the help of other City Council members, denied the initial demolition order.  

*As was typical for local dairies in Chicago in the early 1900s, this structure was made up of an 1890's two-flat surrounded by walls and roofing. This is believed to be the last vestige left of Chicago's local dairy history.




Leona's proposed building

Much prefer the current facade. There's something institutional-looking about the proposed white front, in my opinion.

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