LAKEVIEW — The signs read “Everything Must Go!” And everything went.
The nearly century-old Tenenbaum True Value Hardware on Belmont is now cleared out ahead of its demolition — with the exception of its distinctive, hard-to-miss, “T”-shaped red sign.
Now, the owners are hoping to find a new home for the sign to extend its life.
Third-generation Tenenbaum co-owner Steve Lipshutz walked into his family’s now-gutted store Wednesday morning to clean out a last few things.
The family is selling the single-story building at 1138 W. Belmont Ave., where the store has operated since 1923. Developer SNS Realty Group plans to build a five-story apartment building with retail on the first floor.
“When we first announced that we were closing the store, a lot of people said, ‘What’s going to happen to the sign?'” Lipshutz said. “I would love to see something be done with it.”
The operator of the Twitter handle @chicagobars is helping in the push to sell the sign, publicizing it Tuesday.
Similarly, Lipshutz hopes the Tenenbaum sign finds a glorified future second life after the building comes down.
“It really is iconic,” he said. “I mean, if you’re standing up on the ‘L,’ you can see the sign as you’re driving down Belmont. It sticks out — It’s big. It’s huge. It’s a big red T. I think it’s a part of Lakeview history, if not Chicago history.”
The Lipshutz family announced last year they would close the store. They held a final sale to unload everything inside the building, down to the fixtures.
While Lipshutz was cleaning out the store Wednesday, longtime customers drove past, honking their horn and waving to him.
Lipshutz remembered how customers would bring their dogs in for treats while relishing a conversation with the family, or how his dad used to bring in rolls from Dinkel’s Bakery for the customers on Saturdays.
“That’s the thing I miss most — it’s the communication with the people who would come in here,” he said. “Just the niceties of community.
“I hope they remember us as being honest, nice, good people.”
Across the street, Diana Hong has run her Belmont Dry Cleaner for more than 30 years. She has mixed feelings about the changes around her, she said. Her business has started to dwindle to “horrible” levels, making her worry about how much longer she’ll be able to keep things running.
A man who goes by Mr. Pacheco was at the hardware store Wednesday. He recycles metal scraps and spent the morning clearing out leftover materials. He said he lamented the loss of yet another longtime Chicago business and building.
“It’s sad, man. I like it the way it was before,” he said. “Not like this, man; everything is going down.”
The plan for the apartments replacing Tenenbaum’s includes 33 units, 16 parking spaces and 28 bicycle parking stalls, according to documents filed with Ald. Tom Tunney’s (44th) office. The project will be a transit-oriented development, so it will have fewer parking spaces because of its proximity to the Belmont station.
Check out more photos of Tenenbaum’s:
Block Club Chicago’s Jake Wittich contributed.
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