RIVER NORTH — One of Chicago's busiest developers is closing in on one of the city's most promising development sites: Holy Name Cathedral's parking lot.
JDL Development, which is building a 37-story condo tower in the Gold Coast and new apartments on the former Ed Debevic's diner, is negotiating a purchase contract with the Archdiocese of Chicago for its big parking lot at the southwest corner of State Street and Chicago Avenue, according to Crain's. The property can fit up to two new towers, according to the report.
The archdiocese confirmed Wednesday it had "reached an agreement" for a sale.
"Developers have been interested in the property west of State Street across from Holy Name Cathedral for decades," Colleen Tunney-Ryan, an archdiocese spokeswoman, said in a statement. "Any future development will include an open, green space directly across from the Cathedral and an increased number of parking spaces reserved for Cathedral use."
The archdiocese put the parking lot up for sale last year amid slipping attendance at Mass and churches falling into disrepair. An archdiocese spokeswoman told DNAinfo last year that proceeds from Holy Name Cathedral's parking lot sale would go toward "debt repayments" and the archdiocese's other cash needs. JDL has agreed to pay more than $110 million for Holy Name Cathedral's parking lot, according to the report.
Though it's regarded as a prime development site Downtown, Holy Name Cathedral's parking lot also has a sordid history as the site of Capone-era gangland murder.
The State Street site once was home to a flower shop owned by mobster Dean "Dion" O'Banion, a dapper Irishman who enjoyed fancy suits and making piles of cash selling booze in Prohibition-era Chicago.
The flower shop was his spot, and he did a good business selling funeral arrangements for dead mobsters.
It was in that shop — once part of a row of multistory stone buildings across from Holy Name Cathedral — that O'Banion's fate was sealed. He was shot dead in 1924 after double-crossing Chicago Outfit boss Johnny Torrio and his emerging protege, Al Capone.
The killing sparked a vicious five-year war between O'Banion's North Side gang and Capone's South Side crew, a conflict that culminated in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929 that killed members of George "Bugs" Moran's gang.
O'Banion, once an altar boy at Holy Name Cathedral, wasn't allowed to be buried from the famed church across the street from his flower shop because of his unsavory other line of work.
Holy Name's pending sale to JDL could still fall through as it has yet to close. Jim Letchinger of JDL and Colleen Tunney-Ryan, a spokeswoman for the diocese, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.