Red Berghoff

In the Sun-Times today, David Roeder has a good piece about the GSA's interest in the Berghoff property, bringing into question the circumstances behind the family's closing of the restaurant (set for February 28). Beyond that unofficial speculation, the article tries to illuminate the city's landmark policy, which rated close to 10,000 buildings in the city about a decade ago (transcribed below). Note: these ratings are separate from official Chicago landmarks.

The City of Chicago developed a kind of shadow landmark system by color-coding buildings that might have architectural or historic importance. A shadow designation is easier to impose than official landmark status. The highest ratings are red and orange. Any attempt to demolish a red- or orange-rated building triggers a 90-day hold on permits while city employees determine whether the property should be saved.

Red buildings have the highest ratings. There are 171 red buildings in Chicago, of which 140 are official landmarks.
Examples include:
Carson Pirie Scott store, 1 S. State
City landmark? Yes
Wrigley Building, 410 N. Michigan
City landmark? No
Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
City landmark? No
Rookery Building, 209 S. La Salle
City landmark? Yes
Marshall Field, 111 N. State
City landmark? No

Orange buildings are deemed slightly less significant than red buildings. About 9,600 properties carry the designation. Few are city landmarks, but many are within landmark districts, thus limiting an owner's right to alter or raze them.
Examples include:
Oriental Theatre, 32 W. Randolph
City landmark? No
Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe
City landmark? No
Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State
City landmark? No
Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton
City landmark? Yes
Chicago Daily News building, 400 W. Madison
City landmark? No

Both the Marshall Field's and Carson Pirie Scott stores are Chicago icons and designated "red" buildings. One is a landmark and one isn't.
But as we can see by the city's recent behavior (PDF link), these colored designations can sometimes lose their meaning and purpose.


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