Being 42nd Ward alderman must have looked pretty easy to Brendan Reilly after he handedly defeated longtime incumbent Burt Natarus.
But now the rookie legislator’s facing his first tough decision.
The issue is a proposal by developer Steven Fifield to demolish the Lake Shore Center, 850 N. Lake Shore Drive. Fifield has a contract to buy the building from Northwestern University, provided the city gives him a permit to demolish it.
The building is rated orange in the city’s Chicago Historical Resources Survey of property, which means the city has to wait 90 days before issuing a demolition permit. That delay gives the city’s Landmark Protection Commission an opportunity to save the building by designating it as a landmark.
Gold Coast residents and activists from Preservation Chicago are fighting to save the building (they’ll hold a rally at 850 N. Lake Shore Drive Sunday, June 3, at 1 PM.) Of course, the commission generally follows the lead of the local alderman, not preservationists, on such matters. If the alderman’s for preservation, the commission will preserve it. If not, the building’s a goner, no matter what the preservationists say.
So what’s Reilly’s stand? No one’s sure yet. “We briefed him [Reilly] about the building’s value,” says Jonathan Fine, Preservation Chicago’s cofounder. “He listened carefully but he didn’t indicate his position.”
Reilly didn’t return calls for comment.
The 90-day hold period expires July 15.