Walgreens to close unique Wicker Park store

The drugstore, part of a celebrated renovation, incorporated features from when the building was a bank office, including a vault.

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The Walgreens store in the Noel State Bank Building at 1601 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The Walgreens store in the Noel State Bank Building at 1601 N. Milwaukee Ave. is scheduled to close on Jan 31.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Walgreens is closing one of its most distinctive stores in Chicago.

The drugstore chain said its store at 1601 N. Milwaukee Ave. will close on Jan. 31. It’s in a former bank building that dates from 1919, and it incorporated an ornate lobby and the old vault in the basement that became the “Vitamin Vault.”

Residents and tourists enjoyed the design, celebrating it on social media.

The closing had been a rumor in Wicker Park. “Walgreens was playing this close to the vest. We were kind of up in the air about this for the last couple of months,” said Luke Scaletta, community engagement coordinator for the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.

In confirming the closing, Walgreens said prescription records will transfer automatically to a store at 1372 N. Milwaukee Ave.

“As we move forward on our strategy to expand Walgreens’ role as a leader in the delivery of local health care, we are focused on creating the right network of stores in the right locations to best meet the needs of the communities we serve. We have made the difficult decision to close this location,” said Marty Maloney, Walgreens’ senior manager of media relations. “There are a number of factors that we take into consideration including dynamics of the local market and changing buying habits of our customers.”

Walgreens opened in the space in 2012, hosting then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a special event.

Known as the Noel State Bank Building, the property is listed as a contributing factor in the city’s official Milwaukee Avenue District, a landmark area recognized for its prominence as a commercial center since the late 19th century. Principal features cannot be altered without permission of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

The building’s owner is a company connected to Chicago futures trader Donald Wilson Jr. The company did not answer a request for comment Friday.

Scaletta said the chamber will work with the owner to find a suitable tenant to replace Walgreens.

The building won a preservation award in 2013. The group Landmarks Illinois reported then that the building had been abandoned and “was in a terrible state of disrepair” before the renovation.

A city report in 2007 described its merits as part of the Milwaukee Avenue District.

“The structure occupies a triangular-shaped site and is a distinct visual feature of the district. Designed by Gardner C. Coughlen in a dignified Classical Revival-style, the design of the bank expresses an image of permanence and security,” the report said. “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.”

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