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Moody Bible Wants To Lease Some 'Surplus' Properties on Near North Side

By Mina Bloom | February 29, 2016 6:17am
 The bible school has about 18 properties spread across 20 acres in Old Town and the surrounding area.
The bible school has about 18 properties spread across 20 acres in Old Town and the surrounding area.
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DNAinfo/David Matthews

NEAR NORTH SIDE — Steve Mogck, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Moody Global Ministries, said the Near North Side bible school wants to lease some of its "surplus" properties to developers.

Moody Bible Institute, 820 N. LaSalle St., recently applied for a "more flexible" zoning designation for its entire campus that, if approved, would open up the possibilities for any number of projects, including commercial, residential and retail, Mogck said. 

Since the plans are in the early stages, Mogck said it is unclear how many of the school's approximately 18 properties would be on the table. Some of the properties appear to be one building, but are made of separate properties that could be leased out separately. In total, Moody's campus spans 20 acres.

While Mogck said his team was not driven by the construction boom happening in Old Town and on the Near North Side, he said construction cranes "on every corner" make it "easier to see the valuations rising."

"As we're looking at our real estate assets, we're blessed with a substantial value of real estate. We're also realizing we have a surplus of land," Mogck said.

"We're looking at ways that our ministry [can] be stronger from a financial standpoint. To stay strong ... that's why we started this analysis with respect to our real estate."

Mogck said both Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) support the zonng change. Neither alderman was available for comment Friday afternoon.

Should the bible school get the necessary city approval, Mogck said his team plans to meet with the local aldermen and neighbors to pitch new uses for the properties alongside developers.

"We want [developments] that would keep our area strong for purposes of our campus," Mogck said.

The origin of Moody Global Ministries dates all the way back to 1886, when it was founded by evangelist D. L. Moody. There are three schools under the Moody umbrella: Moody Bible Institute, Moody Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute Distance Learning. 

In addition to its main Chicago campus, Moody has campuses in Spokane, Wash., and Plymouth, Mich. According to Moody's website, the Chicago school has 1,675 undergraduate students and 527 graduate students.

"We want to stay in the city in Chicago forever," Mogck said. "We see it as such a core part of what we are. This whole process is about being able to stay healthy and strong and impact the city of Chicago for good."

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