This Spring Loyola University Chicago will introduce a master plan that will update and amend the school’s 1997 Institutional Planned Development with the City of Chicago. As Planned Development (PD) #34 in a City that now oversees thousands of PDs, Loyola has one of the oldest consistently updated plans on record in Chicago. The plan includes calculations that assess the University’s current and future zoning impact on the City and the neighborhood in the areas of population, real estate usage, and transportation/parking.
When any single entity owns multiple contiguous parcels of property, the City of Chicago requires that a planned development govern the use of the combined property rather than allow each property’s zoning to stand alone. This provides a higher degree of understanding and comfort for all of the stakeholders near the properties. The property owner can plan years in advance knowing that the first level of approval has already been granted. The City can dictate usages, open space necessities, and future parking requirements. And the neighbors are assured that future population growth and building development will not have a deleterious impact on the community.
Loyola has increased the total number of students at the Lake Shore Campus in the last decade. Conversely, Loyola has trimmed the number of faculty and staff at the campus by moving all of the professional offices for Education, Business, Pastoral Studies, Communications, and Nursing to either the Water Tower or Maywood Campus. Additionally, Loyola has streamlined administrative operations to allow more students to be served by fewer employees.
The student growth, however, has reached its limit. Loyola is now the largest of the 28 Jesuit universities in the United States, surpassing both Georgetown and Marquette, and intends to hold enrollment at 2,500 incoming freshman per year. This will allow the University to plan effectively for the campus and the neighborhood as well as shape itself into a more selective, more diverse, and higher achieving student body with students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds who can make the grade.
The proposed amendment will add Granada Center, 6439 North Sheridan, which was a privately owned building in 1997, as well as the parking lot at 6601 North Sheridan and several smaller residential parcels on Loyola Avenue that have been purchased in the last decade. The greatest boundary change is in Edgewater (the 48th Ward) where Loyola has been intentional about purchasing apartment buildings, many of them the much maligned 4+1’s, in order to create residence halls. More than half of Loyola’s students now live south of Devon.
While most new development is planned for the campus proper, some are on the border with the neighborhood. They include a potential market-rate residential development on Loyola Avenue, west of Sheridan Road which was originally proposed as part of the Devon-Sheridan TIF. Preliminary concepts show an apartment building between four and six stories including affordable units, green lawns, and parking. The project cannot happen until a development partner comes forward and is not intended to house students nor have any university-specific use at all. The intention is to return that development to the tax rolls.
Also on Loyola Avenue, east of Sheridan, Loyola proposes to partner with the Archdiocese of Chicago to build a new seminary for the education and formation of priests. The proposed courtyard building is four stories, traditional red-brick architecture, and includes a chapel, dining hall, and office space in addition to residences.
On-campus, the focus is on re-imagining the delivery of co- and extracurricular activities for students as well as rectifying the architectural mistakes of past generations. A new addition to Gentile Center, The Center for Varsity Athletics, is currently underway and the interior home of Men’s and Women’s NCAA Division I basketball will be re-oriented with 4,500 fixed-chairs replacing 5,000 seat bleachers.
The original home of the 1963 NCAA basketball champions, Alumni Gym, is small, poorly ventilated, and not handicapped accessible. Loyola proposes demolishing the building in 2013 and replacing it with a state of the art student union, of similar size, to house the departments of student development, leadership, activities, and University Ministry.
The Halas Center for recreational fitness will receive an addition and impressive facelift in 2014, turning the current grey concrete faced to red-brick and allowing for more interior space for equipment, including a rock climbing wall, and a café.
One of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood, Damen Hall, will be demolished this summer and replaced in two years with a 3-4 story academic building which will house the College of Arts and Sciences. The new building will architecturally mimic one of the oldest, historically landmarked, buildings at Loyola, Dumbach Hall.
As for transportation and parking; Loyola is in a much stronger position than it was in during the 1997 amendment process. Loyola will present not only the required transportation study but also a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan. Together the studies show that, despite growth, Loyola’s traffic and parking impact on the neighborhood have actually declined. The TDM explains that, since 1997, Loyola has banned freshman students from bringing cars to campus, instituted a shuttle bus system to transport people from the Lake Shore Campus to the Water Tower Campus, affiliated with the CTA to offer U-PASS to all full time undergraduate and the majority of graduate students, instituted a “walk-to-work” University Assisted Housing program, invited I-Go ad Zipcar to campus with incentives for joining, and created a borrow-a-bike program.
Finally, Loyola will add recently adopted Campus Design Guidelines to its PD proposal. The Design Guidelines, approved by the Board of Trustees, ensure open space, green space, consistency of building and landscape materials, and environmental LEED certification for all new buildings.
The City approval process is very public, as all property owners with a 250 foot radius of the PD boundaries are notified by the City of Chicago via certified mail when the plan is going before the Plan Commission and the City Council. Additionally, university representatives will be attending smaller local group meetings in order to discuss the particulars of the plan, solicit neighbor input, and answer questions prior to the official City approval process.