WICKER PARK — A Walgreens official surprised Wicker Park neighbors this week by saying a flagship location inside a renovated bank in the heart of the neighborhood is closing — but company representatives are now saying that’s up in the air.
A Walgreens spokesperson said no decision has been made to close its centerpiece store in the former Noel State Bank, 1601 N. Milwaukee Ave. Company representatives told neighbors it was closing at a community meeting Wednesday.
Walgreens took over the former bank a decade ago, undertaking extensive renovations as it transformed it into a pharmacy and drugstore.
The branch became known for its ornate interior and repurposed bank features, including the “Vitamin Vault,” which stores rows of vitamins in the former vault in the building’s basement.
Speaking at a meeting of the Wicker Park Committee Wednesday, Walgreens environmental designer Amy Wagner confirmed to neighbors the store is closing, but didn’t disclose a reason why.
“Is that confirmed, that it is closing?” a neighbor asked.
“Yes,” Wagner said.
But Walgreens spokesperson Kris Lathan Thursday said the Deerfield-based company has not made any decisions regarding the location. Lathan said the company is currently under a long-term lease agreement for the location, but did not disclose when that was set to end.
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said Walgreens reached out to him Thursday and confirmed no decision has been made.
Walgreens is currently renovating its other Wicker Park location a few blocks south at 1372 N. Milwaukee Ave., which is closed except for a mobile pharmacy set up in the parking lot.
Wagner said Wednesday that Walgreens hopes to reopen that branch in the beginning of 2023. It will feature an updated facade and large windows along Milwaukee Avenue, as well as several murals inside.
The Noel State Bank building was constructed in 1919 and was home to various banks throughout the 20th century, according to a 2007 report from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.
“Designed by Gardner C. Coughlen in a dignified Classical Revival-style, the design of the bank expresses an image of permanence and security. The exterior is clad entirely in ornamental terra cotta. Large windows are divided by engaged pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals, and a prominent cornice wraps around the rounded corners of the building,” the report reads.
Walgreens opened the store in 2012 after two years of building restorations.
The drugstore location has become a fixture on TikTok and in other media for its unique features, with some calling it a “hidden gem,” even though it’s located in the middle of Wicker Park.
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