I am very happy to confirm that Filter is open for business!

We have been working with Jeff, the owner, to open this new space since the old Filter closed in 2007.  It has been a long, arduous journey but we are very happy to have Jeff open.  Filter was an old hangout for me when I was living in Bucktown in the 00’s and I was very disappointed to see Filter be replaced by another ubiquitous commercial bank installation.  After I heard the news I thought, I wish there was something I could do to help Filter reopen.  Turns out, there was.  Knowing how cumbersome the Chicago building and zoning codes can be, I contacted Jeff and asked if he needed help, free of charge, to assess new Filter locations.  It was the least we could do for a cafe that means so much to the neighborhood.  Three spaces and 18 months later we found the building at 1373 and knew it was the one.  The raw quality of the space was very reminiscent of the old Filter and had a couple of other built-in, cool features.  For instance, the old, metal shutters covering the windows at the back of the seating area were revived to their original luster.  Photos after the jump.

During the 18 month Filter space search Jeff and I became friends and it was easy to tell his interests went beyond just reopening the cafe.  He wanted to make a difference in the community and the environment, too.  As a sustainable food and architecture advocates we were able to educate Jeff in how to lessen his overall environmental and food footprint.  So, when officially certified, Filter will meet the LEED Gold rating for commercial interiors (AKA LEED-CI).  In that, we will be saving 36.5% in water usage through efficient toilets, faucets, and urinals, 34% in lighting power usage, and Energy Star rated furnaces, condensing units, and appliances.  Additionally, the space we selected is within a 1/2 mile from two El stops (Damen and Division on the Blue Line), a bus stop (Milwaukee Ave), and is in a dense urban environment, all which encourage a walkable environment.  Not to mention the newly installed bike racks out front.

Lastly, and probably most visibly, are the reused materials that we have incorporated into the interior buildout.  My favorite is the slate roofing tile, taken from a tear down house in Lincoln Park, used for wall tile in the restrooms.  When selecting interior materials I find that the aesthetics are always relevant, and never go out of style, when they have a story to tell.  So in this case, the slate was sitting on a Chicago roof for 100 years, and will, hopefully, adorn the walls of a cafe for another 100.  The surface of the check out counter is constructed of glass blocks from the old front window of the Dill Pickle Food Coop (another recently completed project of ours), and the front is surfaced with reclaimed barn wood.  The doors to the restrooms are also salvaged from old Chicago buildings (be sure to check out the one with the peep-hole and mail slot!).  And speaking of doors, a wall at the rear seating platform is what I like to call a ‘door mosaic’.  We took interior doors from a residential renovation project of ours in Logan Square and crafted a wall made entirely of old doors.  What about the knobs, you ask?  They are attached to another wall to be used as coat hooks.

The sustainable improvements have even effected Jeff’s restaurant practices.  He will be roasting fair trade coffee in an energy efficient roaster, eliminating all paper napkins and plastic-ware in favor of cloth and silver, respectively.

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