Giuseppe Zappani has already earned a number of awards for his restoration of the historic Arcade Building at 1 Riverside Road in downtown Riverside. In November, however, he will receive what one fan of his restoration efforts calls the “Oscar” of preservation.
On Saturday, Nov. 1, at the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago, Zappani will receive one of nine Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards being handed out by Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and helping preserve the state’s historic buildings. The Arcade Building is receiving an award in the restoration category.
“I like those historic buildings. That’s why I did all the work,” said Zappani, a suburban roofing contractor who bought the Arcade Building from a Minnesota-based bank in 2010.
Heather Plaza, a former Riverside resident and former member of the Riverside Preservation Commission, first nominated the Arcade for the award back in 2012. She resubmitted the application this year, and it was chosen.
“I’m really excited,” said Plaza. “It’s gratifying to see someone [like Zappani] who is not in the [preservation] industry be recognized for their efforts.”
Zappani’s exterior restoration of the Arcade Building was meticulous. He tore off the stucco that had covered the ground floor for decades and restored the Victorian gothic brickwork. He tore off the asphalt tile roof and replaced it with slate, added copper gutters and decorative finials. He also topped the building with a central tower, similar to the one that once capped the building when it was constructed in 1871.
His restoration efforts followed strict federal guidelines that were required when he accepted a Class L designation from Cook County, which provided Zappani with tax breaks.
It’s not the first time Zappani’s efforts with the Arcade Building have been recognized. In 2011, the Frederick Law Olmsted Society in Riverside honored him with its Restoration Award, and in 2012, he received the Good Neighbor Award from the Chicago Association of Realtors for saving and restoring the local Riverside landmark.
But the Landmarks Illinois prize is special, said Plaza.
“It’s the Oscars of preservation,” she said. “I hope he gets a kick out of it.”
According to Suzanne Germann, director of grants and easements at Landmarks Illinois, Driehaus Award winners receive a $500 cash prize in addition to the physical award, which is a scaled-down reproduction of Louis Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange trading room.
It’s the 20th anniversary of the Driehaus Awards this year.
“The story of the Arcade Building, seeing the community come together to nominate it to the 10 Most Endangered List, and then the owner doing the work made it stand out above other nominees,” said Germann.
Between August 2008 and April 2010, the Arcade Building’s future was far from clear. The property was seized during an international securities fraud investigation. It sat vacant and largely open to the weather as the case wound through the courts.
The building eventually was handed over to the bank which held the mortgage. Zappani purchased the building from the bank in April 2010 for $1.3 million.
In 2009, following the efforts of Riverside resident and Preservation Commission member Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga, Landmarks Illinois placed the building on its 10 Most Endangered Historic Places List.
While the top two floors of the building, comprising offices and apartments, have been rented, Zappani is still struggling to find tenants for most of the ground-floor commercial spaces.
Flur, a gourmet bakery, occupies the corner space, but the rest of the commercial units on the first floor remain empty.
“I’ve had a hard time with the commercial spaces,” said Zappani, who added there aren’t any other prospects in the pipeline. “I get a lot of lookers but, so far, no.”