The historic firehouse is located at 4835 N. Lipps Ave. Credit: Courtesy of Lake Effect Brewing

JEFFERSON PARK — When Lake Effect Brewing announced plans to move into a historic Chicago firehouse, residents were excited, but they also wanted the brewery to preserve the look and feel of the 113-year-old building.

Now, the developer working with the brewers are reworking their plans with a new focus on preservation and showcasing the building’s history.

“We’ve definitely moved the ball forward but there is still a ways to go with the city,” said Tim Pomaville, president of Ambrosia Homes. “What we’ve been trying to do with the new plans is listen to some of the feedback we’ve gotten from community groups.”

In March 2018, Ambrosia met with residents to unveil its plans to invest $2.4 million in the historic firehouse at 4841 N. Lipps Ave., which was built in 1906.

Original plans called for the developer to renovate the space into a four-story mixed-use project with Lake Effect on the first floor and apartments on the firehouse’s other floors.

Some residents resisted those plans, however, and asked the developer to preserve the look of the historic firehouse, Pomaville said.

Coupled with input from Preservation Chicago and the Northwest Chicago Historical Society, the new plans for the firehouse attempt to preserve as much of the building’s history as possible.

A historic photo shows what the firehouse at 4841 N. Lipps Ave. used to look like. Credit: Northwest Chicago Historical Society

“If you compare the new plans to what we presented before when it was a four-story building, now it’s a three-story,” Pomaville said. “What we’re really trying to do is take the current two-story firehouse and make it like it was while also adding a third story that’s set back from the front.”

The new plans rolled out last Friday by Lake Effect Brewing show a three-story mixed use building with the brewery still on the first floor. The building will still contain nine apartments, but they will be smaller because plans for a fourth story were eliminated.

Using reference photos of what the firehouse used to look like, Pomaville said the new plans aim to restore as much of the original ornamentation that was was removed from the building over the years. Some of this includes restoring the triangular ornamentation from the front of the building and installing stained glass windows which historic photos show the firehouse used to have.

New renderings show what the firehouse at 4841 N. Lipps Ave. could look like. Credit: Provided

“We really want to compliment the city’s original design of that building. That’s the main theme,” Pomaville said. “So wherever we can, we’re going to try to make it like it was. And I think it’s pretty neat, it’s going to be a very pretty building when it’s done.”

The long-vacant firehouse was most recently used as the 45th Ward sanitation office, which was shuttered as part of the city’s move from a ward-based garbage pickup system to a grid-based system.

The historic firehouse is located at 4835 N. Lipps Ave. Credit: Courtesy of Lake Effect Brewing

The ground-floor brewery would be Lake Effect’s first, and will help the brewery produce and package more beer than ever before.

“The firehouse project is the biggest thing we’ve ever done, by far,” Lake Effect owner Clint Bautz told Block Club in January. “We’ll have a bigger system and a bigger output. Mainly because we plan to be selling a lot of our beer on the premise.”

Earlier this year, Pomaville told Block Club his aims to break ground on the project sometime this year. That hasn’t changed.

“It’s very exciting to get this thing going and our goal is still to start construction this year. That hasn’t changed, we’re still waiting on some of the building department processes to wind down,” Pomaville said. “But we’re definitely excited on our end. We’re doing everything we can to move it along.”


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