Chicago Tribune, April 10, 1947
Plans for a 200 million dollar development of upper Michigan av. from the river to Oak st. were presented yesterday to business leaders and property owners of the district at a luncheon in the Continental Hotel sponsored by Arthur Rubloff, Chicago realtor.
The program, requiring the cooperative efforts of property owners, business operators and the city, envisions a series of office buildings, smart shops, hotels, and apartment buildings, as well as extensive underground parking facilities and park beautification. It was described as a plan to turn this stretch of Michigan av. into the “most modern mile in the world.”
Associated with Rubloff in the program is the New York real estate firm of Webb & Knapp. Architectural details and designs were worked out by the Chicago firm of Holabird & Root.
10 Million Building Planned.
Among new projects already planned is a 10 million dollar office building to be located on the east side of Michigan av. between Chestnut and Pearson sts., said Rubloff. This property, consisting of 54,000 square feet with a Michigan av. frontage of 214 feet, recently was purchased by Webb & Knapp from the Potter Palmer estate. Rubloff said that the upper floors of the building would be occupied by radio and advertising offices, while the lower floors would be given to shops.
Sale of the southwest corner of Chicago and Michigan av. by the Lumbermans Mutual Casualty Company to Webb & Knapp also were announced by Rubloff. He said that a lease for 55 feet of the corner of this property had been made with the Walgreen company, which, he said, plans to construct a new, modern drug store.
View of Rubloff’s model of Michigan av., looking north past the Tribune Tower, showing architect’s plans for commercial and civic building.
Lease Negotiations Pending
Negotiations also are pending for leasing the south 90 feet of the property for a national institution for construction of another large retail establishment, Rubloff said. The entire property consists of 16,500 square feet and has a frontage of 150 feet on Michigan av. and 110 feet on Chicago av.
Rubloff also disclosed that John Mack, owner of the Continental Hotel, plans to build a 22 floor, 500 room addition on the southeast corner of Grand and Michigan av. Rubloff said the addition would cost approximately $4,500,000.
25 Millions Committed.
The realtor said Bonwit-Teller, Inc., of New York would spend approximately 2 million dollars to construct a new store at the northwest corner of Michigan av. and Pearson st. He also recalled that Saks Fifth Avenue recently purchased 57,000 square feet on the east side of Michigan av. between Delaware pl. and Chestnut st. as the site of a new six story structure expected to cost about 6 millions.
Reviewing other building plans which already have been announced, Rubloff emphasized that the development program no longer was in the “conversational stage.” He added that 25 million dollars of private capital already had been committed to the program.
Wants 25 Millions from the City.
Rubloff also said the plan also called for an expenditure of 25 million dollars by the city for improvements that would insure the area “against deterioration and traffic congestion.” The plan provides that the city improve the intersection oat Michigan and Chicago avs., razing the pumping station at the northeast corner.”
The plan also proposes for this area the construction of of an underground parking area on two levels, with a capacity for 1,500 automobiles at one time.
“On the street level property, east of Michigan av. between Chicago av. and Pearson sts., the city could lay out a plaza, which would include a skating rink, lending a smart recreational aspect to the area,” said Rubloff.
Civic Music Hall Suggested.
For this area, it was suggested that the city build a civic hall of music on its property fronting on Seneca st. According to the plan, the armory east of Seneca st. on the north side of Chicago av. would remain, but the city would would construct a two level parking area under the Lake Shore playground, extending eastward to Lake Shore dr. Such an area could take care of 3,000 cars at one time, it was said.
Extension of the double deck levels of Michigan av. from Grand av. to Chicago av. also was suggested as another part the city could play in the program.
Architect John W. Root said the plan would limit new store and office buildings fronting on Michigan av. to about seven stories in height. Landscaped shopping promenades would cut through the center of the blocks at the rear of the buildings, paralleling the avenue. Root added that these long plazas would provide a “tremendous amount of additional store frontage.”
Mr Root said:
We have though of the avenue as a thoroughfare two blocks wide, reinforced with the two auxiliary parallel streets of Rush st. and St. Clair. Such an architectural pattern would loosen up the block, give the avenue a magnificent spaciousness, and permit plenty of sunlight and air thruout the area.
Upper Michigan av. has been destined to become one of the great streets of the world. However, its potentialities to date have been only partially recognized. With the development of this plan, it can fulfill its destiny and become one of the world’s most beautiful streets.
Root suggested that the improved intersection of Michigan and Chicago avs. should be “Water Tower Square,” inasmuch as the old water tower, a Chicago landmark, will remain.
EVOLUTION OF MICHIGAN AVENUE
1904 Proposed Plan
The widening of Pine Street in 1910.
An aerial view of the new boulevard bridge showing traffic between 8 and 9am in the morning in 1922.
North Michigan Avenue
Land Use in Chicago