Preserve or demolish?


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Among the elements the Downtown Steering Committee is considering is whether the Colt building at 1133 Lake St. (the south end fronts on Westgate) should be razed and developed or preserved and redeveloped. The committee and other interested citizens were invited for a walking tour of the Colt building and the surrounding block on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Approximately 50 people attended.

One of the interesting, little-known facts about the Colt building is that it was originally built with an open-air atrium down the middle. The atrium was enclosed in 1950. When pieces of the art deco facade fell off on the Lake Street side in the mid-1990s, it was covered over with Dryvit. Tim Hague of the Taxman Corp., which currently owns the building, said it was covered over when they bought it, so they don't know if the art deco facade is relatively intact underneath.

The 1938 photo (right) from the Historical Society, shows the building in its original two-part configuration. The large basement once housed Hillman's food market.

Currently, the building, which has approximately 54,000 square feet of rentable area, is about 2/3 occupied, according to Hague. Among the tenants is Radio America's media sales division.

The building's architect was the firm of Leichenko & Esser. If the building were to be restored to its original condition, Hague pointed out, each wing would have to be made ADA accessible.

Yikes, an audience!

The River Forest District 90 school board's finance committee doesn't usually have much of an audience for its meetings in the Roosevelt School Learning Center. But it's likely there was a good crowd on hand last night. In light of the recent announcement by the village board that they were looking into a referendum to acquire Home Rule powers, Dist. 90 Superintendent Marlene Kamm invited President Frank Paris, all six trustees and several village staff to attend their finance committee.

Paris confirmed last Friday that he'd be there, saying, "I want to hear firsthand what the school board is planning with their finances."

Kamm said that's exactly what they'd be discussing.

"We're going to definitely cover all our finances?#34;past, present and future," said Kamm. "We want them and everyone to be educated about where we're going and what it's all about."

Kamm said she and several school board members present at the Aug. 22 village board meeting were rather distressed by what she termed uninformed comments by several audience members, as well as some trustees. At that meeting, School Board President David Gregg told the trustees that the school board was still considering going before the voters with a property tax referendum a year from November.

Momo, this is your life ... and death

The world is apparently one step closer to seeing the story of former Oak Parker and Chicago Outfit leader Sam Giancana portrayed on television. The Hollywood Reporter reported last month that cable network TNT has confirmed it is in development for an as-yet-untitled film project based on Giancana's life, headed by Mark Wolper and Warner Bros. Television. It was announced last August that Dimitri Logothetis and Nicholas Celozzi II had acquired the rights to the movie from Giancana's daughter Francine after seven years of effort. Francine Giancana DePalma is Celozzi's cousin. In a press release last August from Celozzi and Logothetis's production company, Acme Entertainment, the pair referred to the Giancana's life as a "real life 'Sopranos.'"

The six-hour mini-series will reportedly tell the story of "Momo" Giancana's rise from a Little Italy, born-and-bred street thug to leader of the powerful Chicago Outfit. At the height of his power, Giancana hobnobbed with the likes of John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra, and ran the Chicago mob's operations out of the old Armory Lodge on Roosevelt Road in Forest Park.

Giancana was arrested some 70 times and served two prison sentences early in his criminal career. He was also jailed for contempt of a federal grand jury in 1965 after refusing to testify. After getting out, he "retired" to Mexico, but Mexican police unceremoniously arrested him one morning in 1974 and deported him to the U.S. He was subsequently unceremoniously shot six times in the head while he cooked his favorite sausage dish in the basement kitchen of his comfortable Wenonah Avenue bungalow on July 19, 1975.

No word yet on what local landmarks might turn up in the film.

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