ROGERS PARK — Billionaire developer Col. James Pritzker plans to raze what is now a Buddhist meditation center and build a parking garage on Sheridan Road.
The Shambhala Meditation Center at 7331 N. Sheridan Rd. will relocate to a West Loop location this summer after its owners sold the land to Pritzker for $1.7 million, said Thomas Adducci, the center's executive director.
When Adducci, one of two fulltime staff members at the center, announced the move, "there was a mixed reaction" from the center's members, who practice Buddhist meditation techniques there.
"A lot of people were excited we were moving into a new bigger space," he said.
But others found it hard to let go of a spiritual institution that's been in the neighborhood since 1995.
Adducci said the offer to purchase the property came at the right time because the center had outgrown the former single-family home and was looking for something bigger.
When the property was sold, he said, he didn't know it'd be demolished to make way for a parking garage.
"Isn't that interesting, they're going to pave Shambhala and put up a parking lot," he said jokingly, referencing the famous Joni Mitchell lyric.
Tawani Enterprises, which manages Pritzker's holdings, plans to begin construction of the four-story parking garage on the land in May, said Mark Lavender, the project's manager.
Tawani will have to win community and aldermanic support, however, for a zoning change that reduces a front-yard setback to 5 1/2 feet, he said.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he hopes the facility would help solve Rogers Park's infamous lack of public parking.
Rogers Park has "justifiably earned the [nickname] 'Rogers No Park,' " Moore said during a live television appearance on CAN TV. "There are a lot of apartments, a lot of density."
Out of the facility's planned 250 parking spaces, 166 would be reserved for residents of Farcroft by the Lake, a 12-story building being rehabbed by Tawani two blocks north, and for visitors of the Emil Bach House, another Pritzker-owned building nearby that is being restored.
The remaining spaces — and any reserved spaces that are not being used — would be available to the public for hourly and monthly parking. Neighborhood residents would pay $150 a month for one space, while Farcroft residents would pay $135.
Hourly parking would be available to the public for $2 an hour and $8 a day.
Renderings of the proposed building show the exterior covered in tall, thin plates of glass and brick.
"We really want it to glow and be a jewel in the neighborhood," Lavender said.
Pritzker, a former Illinois Army National Guard officer, lives in Evanston, but has devoted a portion of his $1.5 billion fortune to preserving historic homes, such as the Emil Bach House, and into new developments including the Mayne Stage Annex on Morse Avenue.
The meditation center's new location in the West Loop will feature a 14,000-square-foot shrine room, significantly bigger than the rooms used now.
Aarti Tejuja, the center's second employee, said before they leave for good, they plan to bless the land.
"It'll be a very spiritual parking lot," the Lincoln Park resident said.