747 William in River Forest is no more. The cruel teeth of the excavator bit into what had once been a part of a rare Prairie-style housing development. The event, while not unexpected, was still a shock.
A majority of us who serve on River Forest’s Historical Preservation Commission had months before signed-off on the demolition. We did so reluctantly but with full knowledge that our options were severely limited. The most the commission could do was delay the demolition for 180 days, not proscribe it. The commission could also require a developer to meet with the commissioners at public hearings.
Mr. Sarvis, the lead developer, who is also a resident of River Forest, fully cooperated with the commission. He answered all the commission’s questions in a clear and precise manner and was always open as to his intent to demolish the structure. He also led an extensive tour of the structure and allow the commission’s architects to prod and poke in all the nooks and crannies. After viewing the structure and listening to various points of view, I reluctantly concluded that indeed 747 had no redeeming economic value. Investing $100,000+ into the structure would have been a labor of love, but not of profit. No one appeared ready to take that plunge even though Mr. Sarvis was prepared to sell.
I believe the River Forest community is fortunate that a resident owns the property and is, I believe, receptive to the sensibilities of the 700 block and the community.
I wish Mr. Sarvis well in his execution of this contentious project.