Perhaps the grandest member of the historic downtown group is the Syndicate Trust tower, completed in 1907. This Chicago School tower by architect Harry Roach is covered with lavish terra cotta ornament, from its store-fronted ground floor to its handsome cornice. Only the Railway Exchange can match the Syndicate for sheer levels of detailing and ornament.
In 1912, the tower was joined with its 10-story neighbor, the now-demolished Century Building. The pair, collectively known as the Syndicate Trust, comprised one of the city's largest buildings.
The building, like the rest of the city, declined in the 1960s, particularly when its original major tenant, department store Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney, closed in 1967. A series of owners worked to no avail to fill the building to capacity. A new owner bought the building in 1986, but defaulted on a loan used for the purchase two years later. The legal shenanigans which followed for the next fifteen years could fill a voluminous book. The complex was emptied of tenants in 1994. Deterioration began, along with years of acrimonious debate and legal battles over the buildings' future, ultimately culimating in the demolition of the Century Building in 2004.
The Syndicate tower stood alone and empty after the Century Building was razed, with concrete block to wall up the openings where it once adjoined its elder neighbor. In 2006, redevelopment plans finally got underway; after a two-year renovation, it is today a sparkling residential complex of apartments and condominiums.
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