154 W. Superior Street in River North holds a prominent position for various compelling reasons. Nestled amidst two towering buildings, this charming two-story Italianate row home stands as a captivating testament to Chicago’s architectural heritage.
It has also come to symbolize the evolving cityscape within downtown Chicago. As developers increasingly acquire older properties in River North to make way for taller and more profitable structures, the survival of such vintage buildings becomes increasingly rare. Preservationists understandably express concern over the potential demolition of the historic Superior Street residence amid the ongoing wave of demolitions during this latest development cycle.
The endurance of this home is no mere coincidence. Often likened to the renowned Edith Macefield House in Seattle, which inspired Pixar’s Up, this unassuming structure stands as a testament to resilience between two modern luxury condo towers. Its former owner, Gregory Cooper, adamantly refused all offers from developers and even entertained friends while witnessing the construction of the new buildings around him. After Mr. Cooper’s passing in December 2015, the property was eventually marketed and sold as vacant land. It initially carried a price tag of $1.279 million last April, but ultimately changed hands for $900,000 in August.
Despite appearing as an obvious candidate for demolition and redevelopment, Alderman Brian Hopkins’ (2nd) office assures us that there are no such plans. Last summer, Alderman Hopkins introduced a downzoning measure, downgrading it from DX-7 to DX-3, to prevent developers from tearing down the old home and constructing a taller, denser building without significant restrictions. However, after negotiations with the property’s new owners, Christian Ficara at DX-5, the alderman reached a settlement.
Regarding the plans for the building in the past, Jim Passios from Ceres Partners explained that their team intended to transform the Victorian row house into office space. In contrast to previous attempts to purchase and replace the building with condominiums, Ceres Partners decided to preserve the integrity of the Italianate facade and its matching carriage house. The renovation involved a comprehensive overhaul, but no additional floors were added, and no existing structural walls were demolished. The transformation brought about a new purpose as an office space for Ceres Partners, an Indiana-based firm managing vast corn and soybean properties, and Hop Head Farms, a Michigan-based grower of hops for craft breweries. According to Passios, the building’s appearance significantly improved while maintaining its historical charm.
It has now been fully restored.
Image credits go to original owners.