UNIVERSITY VILLAGE — Plans for a Catholic student dormitory at the site of an 145-year-old church have been shelved, with a developer now proposing to raze the church and build high-end rental units instead.
In January 2012, The Newman Center — a Catholic foundation that runs a student center on UIC’s campus — proposed building five-story building housing 280 students at the site of the former church, 1352 S. Union Ave.
But after 11th Ward Ald. James Balcer delayed a zoning change needed for the plan to go through — among other things, he said in January that he had more pressing issues like potholes to worry about — the group ended up losing their contract for the land.
In May, Balcer claimed the Newman plan "was not dead at all." But since then, he has failed to respond to numerous requests for comment.
Since the dorm plan fell through, developer Property Markets Group presented a new proposal for the property, which would include tearing down the 145-year-old building, which was most recently the home of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church.
During a community meeting last month, Property Markets Group's Noah Gottlieb laid out a proposal for a seven-story, 130-unit rental building, according to the Gazette, a Near West Side publication.
Several plans for the site have changed, and Chloe Riley breaks down the latest:
The property's one- to three-bedroom units would rent for between around $1,500 and $3,000 with 70 parking spots for cars, and space for 130 bicycles, the Gazette said. The developer said he would seek to offer less parking than is typically required — generally one space per unit — because of the demographic makeup of the neighborhood.
At that same meeting, Gottlieb said he wanted to break ground in fall and that construction on the 25,000-square-foot site was expected to take about 10 months.
In an editorial, the Gazette criticized the plan to build an apartment building with reduced parking, saying it could result in "residents' worst nightmares — large size, parking problems and transient tenants."
The editorial also criticized Balcer for failing to support the original dorm plan, which the paper said would have brought in 280 students, "a stable population guaranteed to stay until they earned their degrees, with strict rules for behavior."
The paper said the dorm plans had been adapted based on community input and had community support.
"Concerning this property, Balcer simply has done a bad job," the editorial said.
Gottlieb said in an brief interview last week that the details reported in the Gazette about his group's plans for the property were inaccurate.
But when pressed he could not provide updated information for the proposal and said he had no comment on the situation.