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CHICAGO-The Medinah Temple and Tree Studios, which are undergoing a $60-million renovation, have been recommended for Chicago landmark status. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks, which recommends the designation to the city council, also wants to preserve the Bush Temple of Music and the LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse buildings in the River North neighborhood.

“With landmarks designation, the city will have preserved some of the River North neighborhood’s most historic and distinctive buildings,” says Commission Chairman David Mosena.

Tax increment financing is providing $12.5 million for the Medinah Temple/Tree Studios project. Historic Preservation Associates, with help from preservationist Albert Friedman, and Bloomingdale’s is working on a project that will open the entire 600 block of N. State Street to the public for the first time. Bloomingdale’s plans to open its first-ever 130,000-sf Home Store in four stories of Medinah Temple. Restoration of the Temple’s distinctive architectural features and redevelopment of the building’s interior features would begin this fall, with the store’s opening scheduled for spring 2002.

Medinah Temple, built with Islamic Revival-style architecture, sits at the corner of Wabash and Ontario. It has been the Chicago headquarters for the Shriners organization since 1912. The Tree Studios, originally built in 1894 with annexes added in 1912 and 1913, are next door. The artists’ colony has been long-sought by developers.

The project was shepherded through the city hall development maze by Alicia Mazur Berg, promoted earlier this year to director of the planning department.

Friedman is a former chairman of the landmark commission who was involved in renovations of the Goodman Theater at Randolph and Dearborn as well as the old traffic court building at 321 N. LaSalle St.

The LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse housed engines that moved cable through streets on the Near North Side, providing transportation for 100,000 workers a day. Built in 1887, the building is more famous as a restauarant venue, most recently as “Michael Jordan’s.”

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