Northwestern Stymied by Landmark Status

Northwestern Stymied by Landmark StatusNorthwestern University, which owns the former Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago wants to raze the “shuttered hospital to make way for new medical research facilities,” according to the Chicago Real Estate Daily. Yet the university is going to face an uphill battle in destroying this iconic Windy City building, given that Cook County Judge Neil Cohen “granted temporary landmark status to the empty hospital building” in mid-November. After doing so, the preliminary historic designation is in effect; meaning that the city will not pursue any demolition permits until further review has been allowed to take place.

According to Chicago Real Estate Daily, “landmarked buildings cannot be demolished, and that’s the goal of several historic preservation organizations that want the former Prentice building preserved and reused.” National landmark status, according to, does not prevent demolition; only the City of Chicago designation “protects against demolition or significant alteration of the landmarked facades of the buildings in a designated district.” Rather than razing the building, Northwestern University may be forced to convert the hospital into research facilities.

Businesses that open in landmarked buildings face different challenges than others, but reap significant benefits as well. If Northwestern University does convert the clover-shaped Prentice Hospital, it could well benefit from the prestige of the iconic building. When Target opened its first retail store in downtown Chicago, it opened in a landmark building in the Loop, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, bringing an established feel to an experimental business endeavor.

Challenges for businesses opening in landmarked buildings, however, are best left to the professionals to tackle. If your business is thinking of making the move to another building—land-marked or not—or considering buying a new establishment, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area business attorney today.

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