Everyone in the South Loop seems fairly happy that Blue Star, the last of the auto parts stores in the auto parts "section" of the South Loop on South State, just north of Cermak, is going to be transformed into 20 + apartments. By young and fresh-faced brother and sister real estate developers from Los Angeles. They want to showcase 900 square foot, three-bedroom units--fit for roommates, empty nesters and newlyweds.
Oh, ok, so Windy City RE, LLC has five years--and many urban and suburban complexes in the Chicago area--under its belt by now, so they're beyond the newbie/carpetbagger stage. They explained who they were at a recent community meeting sponsored by the Greater South Loop Association. But that didn't matter to me.
That doesn't save them from my disapproval. I hate what they're doing. Robbing us South Loopers of our history. To me, Blue Star is important to South Loop heritage. And once it gets renovated, that history will be gone. Businesses like Blue Star--complete with dirty, dingy pale blue squares of metal siding--give the South Loop its character.
No one at the meeting seemed concerned that we were losing what I consider a landmark. In fact, they seemed to think it was just fine that we were getting rid of an eyesore. They were concerned, however, about how the developers were going about the renovation. Where would the parking be? What kind of retail would be on the ground floor? What color scheme would it have?
There's plenty of room in the South Loop crying out for apartment development. Plenty of empty lots that could use a nice 20 + apartment complex.
Blue Star was once the Cullerton Hotel--and it had a colorful history. It was a nice hotel when it started. It was also a Capone hangout. And a brothel.
Ultimately, it joined many of its neighbors and became an auto parts store. Now it will join the residential real estate conglomeration in the neighborhood.
I say, keep the old and dilapidated pale blue siding, keep it as an auto parts store, keep it as is. Let it emanate the true historical nature of which, and from which a real neighborhood is made.
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