A key city panel endorsed on Tuesday a measure that would sell a vacant Little Village fire station to the National Museum of Mexican Art for $1, to be used to expand Yollocalli Arts Reach, which offers free programs for teens and young adults.
With the unanimous endorsement of the City Council’s Housing and Real Estate Committee, the final vote on the proposal to sell the fire station is scheduled to take place at the next regular meeting of the Chicago City Council.
The fire station at 2358 S. Whipple St. was in use for more than a century but has been vacant since 2011 when a new fire station was built two blocks away. The Chicago Historic Resources Survey determined the two-story structure is significant in the context of the surrounding community.
The old fire station, which an appraisal found to be worth $29,000, is set to be transformed into a gallery, gathering space and community center. The museum will restore the architecturally significant portions of the building, including its spiral staircase, and seek landmark designation from the city, according to the redevelopment proposal.
The fire station is set to be the second location for Yollocalli, which was founded in 1997 and moved from Pilsen to the Little Village Boys and Girls Club in 2013.
In 2019, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Delta Institute proposed transforming the vacant fire station into a commercial kitchen for street vendors on the city’s Southwest Side.
That proposal was a finalist for the Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s $10 million Chicago Prize, but was not selected.