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The long-vacant corner of Chicago Avenue and Davis Street has finally been restored and the colorful striped awnings are up. Years ago, David Hovey, the architect and developer of several of the downtown high rises, proposed one for this site, too, but encountered heavy opposition.
The alderman at the time, knowing the neighborhood’s negative feelings toward high rises, put conditions to Mr. Hovey: The ground floor must be as open as possible and richly landscaped, the traffic problem created by all the cars exiting through the ally must be solved and the volume of the tower must be broken up so it does not look monolithic. Mr. Hovey agreed to abide by all these conditions.
This writer contacted Mr. Hovey and looked at the model of the proposed building and found it completely responsive to the conditions. When it was suggested that the adjacent two-story building on Davis Street, with its handsome Corinthian capitals, should somehow be saved, Mr. Hovey agreed, proposing the careful dismantling and rebuilding of a significant portion of the facade somewhere in the garden part of the site. In response to the traffic issue, Mr. Hovey described his plan to widen the alley to
a comfortable 24 feet.
The popular fallacy of condominium or co-op ownership is that the owner owns the view from the apartment in perpetuity. This is not limited to Evanston. Add to it that every critic who can spell his name and opposes an issue will testify and thus, Hovey’s project was killed.
Years passed. When Giordano’s decided to move to the corner it was welcome news. True, a new building would have brought architectural excitement, but in economically unstable times there is merit in caution and wisdom in minimizing investment exposure. If times improve enough, a new building may be feasible.
In the meantime Giordano’s did a very good job in restoring the stone frames around the first-floor openings. The striped awnings are cheerful and add a nice finishing touch.
To conclude, the result is much preferable to the empty building with brown wrapping paper covering the windows. Welcome, Giordano’s.