Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part III - The Gill Building)


The Gill Building at the corner of 7th and Olive is easy to overlook. Built in 1910, this little five-story terra cotta structure is dwarfed by the surrounding office buildings and practically swallowed whole by a massive parking garage that serves the downtown Macy's store and employees of Macy's Midwest. Only one other building - Charlie Gitto's restaurant - remains on a city block that is dedicated almost entirely to parking.

A few years back, the building's owners, Jack and Pearl Randall, fell victim to hardball tactics on the part of the May Company, which had wanted to buy the building, presumably to raze it for more parking. May, which owned the adjacent parking garage, shut off access to the Gill Building's emergency exits and sprinkler system. A condemnation order was filed by the city. The Randalls, who were living in the building, and Sen Thai, a successful restaurant in the building's basement, were forced to leave.

Sere we are, a few years later. May is now owned by Federated Department Stores, the parent company of Macy's. Fortunately, Sen was able to relocate to a great ground-floor space in the Shell Building, and Randall retained ownership of the building, which remains completely vacant.
Isn't it about time for a truce between Randall, the city and Federated so that the building can be put back to productive use?

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