Ald. Hopkins defends Leona's building

Ald. Brian Hopkins addresses members of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Plans to raze and rebuild the Leona's restaurant in East Village are moving to the City Council for approval. But Ald. Brian Hopkins says he'll work to preserve the building, a former dairy in the East Village landmark district.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks recommended the city approve demolition at 1938 W. Augusta Blvd. Hopkins told commissioners before the Nov. 5 vote that the community wanted to preserve the structure, a 1920s-style glazed-tile facade around an 1895 two-flat.

"There's grandparents and great-grandparents that'll talk about ordering products from Pure Dairy," Hopkins said. "Many of them do believe the building as it stands today is a legitimate symbol of their success as a community."

Hopkins could block demolition in the City Council, but Commissioner James Houlihan asked Hopkins not to defer the issue. He noted the commission would have to approve any new building. "A 44-story high-rise might not be consistent with the district," Houlihan said.

That's not in store, said Tod Mullen, project manager for MCZ Development. He pledged to stick with the current B2-3 mixed-use zoning, which he said would allow 12 residential units.

"The zoning for this allows for a larger building," Mullen said. "This particular building doesn't have a whole lot of commercial value to us as a one-story, overly large restaurant in this particular location."

Hearing on Leona's demolition

A permit to raze the Leona's restaurant on Augusta, a converted historic dairy, comes up for review at the Commission on Chicago Landmarks today. Here's why the East Village Association opposes the demolition. The hearing is at 12:45 p.m. today at City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, in the 2nd floor City Council Chambers.