Theaster Gates to rehab Stony Island bank

Staff Writer

University of Chicago coordinator of arts programming Theaster Gates is expected to take ownership of the former Southmoor Bank and Trust just south of Hyde Park next month.

The Chicago City Council is expected to approve transferring the title for the vacant bank at the January City Council meeting, said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).

The city took ownership of Southmoor Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave., in 2008 after the property had sat vacant for decades. Gates approached Hairston and asked to take control of the building to create a soul food restaurant and incubator space for artists.

The Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois put the bank, previously known as the Guaranty Bank and Trust, and the Stony Island Savings and Loan, on its 2006-2007 Watch List. However it is not listed under the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.

Gates has said he would renovate the property to help keep the building from demolition and create a neighborhood anchor.

“We were able to save the space and we’re in the process of imagining the bank as a creativity hub,” Gates said. The building will house small not-for-profits interested in the arts, and the John Johnson library, an 18,000 book library that was donated to Gates by Linda Johnson Rice, whose father founded Johnson Publishing and Ebony and Jet magazines.

“We look forward to moving the project along and see what Mr. Gates has in store for the community,” Hairston said.