The Quietest Neighbors | Bleader

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Quietest Neighbors

Posted By on 11.12.09 at 11:39 AM

The latest big idea for the landmark Three Arts Club building? A columbarium.

Crain's reported last week that architect Bill Bickford of DePree Bickford Associates wants to buy the 95-year-old brick structure at Dearborn and Goethe—home to thousands of women artists over the years, until it was shut down in 2003—and use it to store the cremated remains of up to 15,000 people, with niches going for as much as $10,000 apiece. Bickford, whose firm has done work at Graceland Cemetery, expects to get the place for about half the $13 million developer Mark Hunt paid. He says the building's exterior and first floor would be restored and opened to the public, and special parking arrangements would be made for memorial services.

Sue Basko—a founder of Friends of the Three Arts Club, which hopes to restore the building to its original use—has asked 42nd ward alderman Brendan Reilly to apply for a change in the zoning law, pronto. As things stand, Basko says, "anybody can turn their backyard into a cemetery or their house into a columbarium."

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