City to pursue landmark status this week for Art Deco former Chicago Motor Club building

May 2, 2011

City landmarks officials will seek landmark status this week for the long-vacant Chicago Motor Club building, a slender Art Deco tower scheduled to be sold at a bankruptcy auction next month.

The city will ask the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday to grant preliminary landmark status to the 17-story building at 68 E. South Water, according to the commission's draft agenda posted online. The 83-year-old building--marketed for better than a decade as "Wacker Tower"--has faced a rocky road in recent years as efforts failed to convert the structure into residences, and in recent years, hotel space. The building's ownership group filed for bankruptcy protection seven months ago as its lender sought to foreclose.  A judge approved a June 23 auction.

The front of the building is covered by scaffolding, but if you're in the neighborhood, take a gander at this beauty and its striking Art Deco detailing. The city proactively stepping up to embrace this building is both fitting and proper. And kudos to the Tribune's Blair Kamin for raising this issue--and likely prompting the city to action--a week ago.

Preliminary landmark status would protect the skyscraper from demolition or unsympathetic alterations while full landmark status is sought. Given the building's architects--Holabird & Root--architecture and vintage, full landmark status is likely a shoo-in.