The balloon of controversy over the historical significance of the so-called “Hoppe Building” appeared to be quickly deflating Monday night, after trustees agreed to vote Feb. 7 on whether to proceed with demolishing it.
The village’s Historic Preservation Commission ruled two weeks ago that the 1923 condo building, on Harlem Avenue just north of the former Marshall Field’s building, may be worthy of local landmark status. Such a ruling, by ordinance, prevents a would-be landmark from being torn down before the commission reaches a conclusion?#34;unless the board, in this case also the owner, approves it, Village Attorney Ray Heise advised trustees.
If the commission were to proceed with hearings, Heise said it’s possible a final decision wouldn’t be reached until April or May.
While two board members argued there should be no rush to demolish it, no trustee showed any fondness for the building’s design, potential historic value or backyard wildlife.
“There are buildings like this all over and this is a bad example of that type of building. It’s a simple building that doesn’t contribute. I don’t see how it has any value,” said Trustee Gus Kostopulos, who is also an architect.
“Why don’t we just declare the whole community a historic district to avoid this kind of problem?”
Board members Galen Gockel and David Pope, however, said the preservation commission should be permitted to settle on the Hoppe Building’s historic merit before it is destroyed.
Use of the parcel occupied by the building is contemplated in Whiteco Residential’s development proposal for Harlem and Ontario. But the Plan Commission has not yet voted on whether to approve the project.
“I’m sensitive to us steamrolling the process,” Pope said. “Maybe there’s nothing so unique about the building, but there’s nothing pressing right now.”
Most board members present, however, questioned the motivations of those seeking to preserve the building.
“We’ve had this building for a year with the clear purpose of knocking it down,” said Trustee Diana Carpenter. “This is a way for a small group who don’t like a development to play a game.”