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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Let There Be Light! Lawrence Avenue Sears Starting To Look Like Its Old Self Again With New Windows

Renovations to the former department store include the reappearance of second-story windows, covered up for decades.

Screenshot (l), Patty Wetli (r)
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LINCOLN SQUARE — The redevelopment of the Lawrence Avenue Sears is well underway, with an interesting twist now on public display.

The nearly 100-year-old building, which is being converted into apartments and ground-floor retail, is getting a facelift that makes it look older.

One of seven original Sears stores constructed in the 1920s, the building at 1900 W. Lawrence Ave. initially featured windows on its first and second stories, as well as its distinctive tower.

Read more:Why Did Sears Cover Up Its Windows?

Credit: Patty Wetli/Block Club Chicago
The Lawrence Avenue Sears as it stood when it closed in 2016.

But a decade later, Sears shifted to “windowless” store designs — a style still very much favored by retailers such as Target — and the Lawrence building was retrofitted as part of this movement.

The second-floor and tower windows were walled over, turning the once airy, sun-drenched building into a fluorescent-lit hulk.

Today, the windows are back as part of a transformation expected to be complete by fall 2020.

The long beleaguered Sears vacated the building in August 2016, and then-Ald. Ameya Pawar was adamant that the structure be saved rather than demolished. The building’s buyer, Springbank Capital, stepped in with a plan to retain the facade of the building while gutting the interior.

Credit: Patty Wetli/Block Club Chicago
The former Lawrence Avenue Sears, being redeveloped into apartments and ground-floor commercial.

Construction includes the creation of 59 apartments, ranging from one- to three-bedrooms, and 30,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. DeVry University has inked a deal to occupy more than half of the first floor.

Check out photos of the transformation here:

The Lawrence Avenue Sears through the years. Credit: Screenshot from “Sears, Roebuck and the Remaking of the Department Store, 1924-42” (l); Patty Wetli
The Lawrence Avenue Sears, as it was originally designed. [Screenshot from “Sears, Roebuck and the Remaking of the Department Store, 1924-42“]
Credit: Patty Wetli/Block Club Chicago
The building’s tower was originally designed to conceal a water tower.
Credit: Patty Wetli/Block Club Chicago
Window openings draw attention upwards to some of the building’s more interesting design elements.

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