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Report: Developers Scrap Plans For Senior Housing At Old Lakeshore Athletic Club

Lakeshore Athletic Club

The former Lakeshore Athletic Club building at 850 N. Lake Shore Dr. (Credit: 850 N. Lake Shore Dr.)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Developers have dropped plans to turn the old Lakeshore Athletic Club building at 850 N. Lake Shore Dr. into senior housing, according to published reports.

Crain’s Chicago Real Estate Daily reports Northrbrook-based Integrated Development, which owns the 85-year-old high-rise building, is now planning 200 general market residential units – scrapping earlier plans for 128 senior units and 11 assisted-living units in the building.

A Google preview of the Web site for the building touts its “expansive independent living and assistant living” units, as well as a planned wellness center. But while some internal pages are still accessible, the main page now only features a photo of the building and a contact form.

Integrated purchased the historic building in 19-story, 374,000 square-foot building 2008 for $40 million, and had planned to invest $80 million to turn it into senior housing, Crain’s reported.

But Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) told constituents Monday that after the November bankruptcy at Clare Tower, a competing senior housing development about half a mile west at 55 E. Pearson St., Integrated could no longer secure financing for the senior housing development, Crain’s reported.

With the senior housing plan called off, Crain’s says it is not clear whether the building will be converted into condos or rental units, although rental units are more likely given the strength of the apartment market in the central city.

The plan as now envisioned calls for parking in the basement, first, second and fourth floors, with a mixture of one- and two-bedroom units above, Crain’s reported.

The Lakeshore Athletic Club opened in 1927, and features ornate terra cotta ornamentation in its Classic Revival-style architecture.

It was originally private club known for athletic activities, including swimming trials for the 1928 Olympics. Johnny Weissmuller, better known as the actor who played Tarzan, took part in those trials and several other swimming matches in the building, according to Preservation Chicago.

In 1977, Northwestern University bought the building and renamed it Lake Shore Center. The building was used for graduate housing for 30 years afterward.

In 2007, Northwestern vacated the building after years of deferred maintenance, anticipating that it would be torn down in favor of a new condo development, Preservation Chicago said.

But shortly after beating Ald. Burton Natarus the same year, Reilly began holding hearings on the building, and announced in 2008 that it would be preserved and used for senior housing, Preservation Chicago said.

The old club on Lake Shore Drive is not to be confused with the unrelated local chain of health clubs of the same name, which were founded by Walter and Jordon Kaiser in 1972 as the Lakeshore Athletic Club. That chain used to have four locations, but the three in and around downtown have since closed, while the original location at 1320 W. Fullerton Ave. was sold by the Kaiser brothers and is now known as Lakeshore Sport and Fitness.