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Nordstrom Project Draws Fire In Chicago

Nordstrom Co. hopes to raze a 1929 building in the heart of Chicago’s posh downtown shopping district, placing the company in an urban development dispute similar to the one that raged last year in Seattle.

According to reports in the Seattle Weekly and Chicago Tribune, the developer of Nordstrom’s Chicago complex wants to tear down the art-deco McGraw-Hill Building on North Michigan Avenue and replace it with a 500,000-square-foot “Nordstrom Galleria” mall.

Developer John Buck, who previously inflamed Chicago by tearing down two nearby ‘20s classics for another shopping complex, dismisses preservationist critics as “fringe groups,” the Tribune reported in April.

In December 1994, Nordstrom announced that it planned to remodel a vacant Frederick & Nelson building in downtown Seattle for its flagship headquarters. In a controversial move, Nordstrom also persuaded the City Council to reopen adjacent Pine Street, which the council had turned into a small park in 1990.

In Spokane, Nordstrom is in the middle of an $80 million proposal to revamp River Park Square and create a downtown shopping mall, Post Street atrium and parking garage.

Politicians and business leaders here, who say that the massive construction drive is needed to keep Nordstrom downtown, began mobilizing public support for the project in April.