I am writing to inform you of my decision on Loyola University’s proposal to build a three-story athletic practice facility on the university’s campus at the southwest corner of Loyola and Winthrop Avenues.
The proposed development is allowed under the existing zoning, but because it is located within the Lakefront Protection Zone, the proposal requires review under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance and approval by the Chicago Plan Commission. Though the Plan Commission reserves final judgment on any proposal it considers, it takes into account the opinions of the local alderman and neighborhood residents when rendering its decisions.
Approximately 20 people attended the community meeting I held on the proposal in December. About half the attendees were community residents and the other half were Loyola University students. The proposal was also reviewed extensively by the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, a group of neighborhood residents and representatives of the major community organizations in the ward that advises me on all zoning and land use issues that come before me.
After careful consideration of the opinions and suggestions of the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Advisory Committee and those who attended the meeting or corresponded with my office, I have decided to SUPPORT the proposal.
The proposed building would provide athletic training facilities for Loyola’s basketball and volleyball teams and allow Loyola to remain competitive with other universities in their conference.
The proposal calls for the building to be constructed on the south side of Loyola Avenue, between Mertz Hall (the high rise student dormitory building) and the jogging track and field.
The driveway/footpath, which currently exists on the site (see photo on left), would be moved to the east side of the new building and the jogging track and field would be shortened (compare aerial views of the current site and the proposed site plan below).
The proposed development would result in no loss of on-street parking.
To view renderings, site plans and elevations of the proposed development, click here.
I received two emails from 49th Ward residents who offered opinions on the proposal. One expressed his support. The other resident expressed her concern about its effect on traffic at Sheridan and Devon, apparently based on the erroneous belief that the development was proposed for Winthrop and Sheridan, rather than Winthrop and Loyola Avenue.
Approximately 20 people attended the community meeting. About half the attendees were nearby residents and the other half were Loyola students. Though some community residents at the meeting supported the proposal, others expressed concern about the traffic impact of the development and the unregulated use of the driveway in front of the proposed development. Neighbors living across the development also expressed concern that the new building would block the sun from their property.
The students attending the meeting expressed opposition to Loyola’s decision to spend money on an athletic training facility when, in their view, the university should be spending its resources on other more critical needs.
The 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend I support the proposal.
I support the proposal for four reasons.
First, as I note above, the development is allowed under the current zoning. The proposal is before the Chicago Plan Commission solely because of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, which was enacted over forty years ago to provide a review process for any development within close proximity of the Lake Michigan shoreline. This development will have no adverse effect on the lakefront.
Second, the building’s handsome design will complement the Gentile Arena, which is just next door to the proposed site, and the other attractive campus buildings, which the university has constructed over the last twenty years.
Third, the building will be built entirely on Loyola’s campus, and consequently will have minimal impact on the surrounding community. The training facility would be used almost exclusively by Loyola student athletes and coaches who already are on campus and not driving from other locations. At my request, Loyola promised to limit the number of trucks, buses and other vehicles that may use the driveway, requiring all vehicles to reserve a time in advance before they can park on the site.
To address concerns that the building would cast a shadow on the neighbors who live immediately across the street, I asked Loyola to conduct a “sun study” to determine the extent of the shadow. The study revealed that the proposed Loyola structure would have minimal impact on the properties across the street. According to the study, the practice facility would cast a morning shadow on the buildings only two months out of the year–mid-November to mid-January–and the shadow would be limited to the first floors of the buildings only.
Finally, the new athletic practice center will help the university remain competitive when recruiting student athletes to its school. The university and Rogers Park are inextricably linked. The growing academic and athletic reputation of Loyola University helps the university maintain and enhance the quantity and quality of its student enrollment, which can only have a beneficial effect on Rogers Park.
Some of the dozen or so students who attended the community meeting spoke out against the athletic practice center, asserting that the school should spend its money on other priorities. The university representatives responded that the cost of the development is underwritten primarily by a wealthy donor who earmarked his donation specifically to building an athletic training center, and is not funded by the university’s general endowment. In other words, the cost of the training center does not come at the expense of other projects or priorities.
Moreover, my role as an alderman should not include micromanaging Loyola University’s internal spending priorities. Instead, it is to ensure that whatever developments the University decides to pursue do not adversely effect the surrounding community and residents.
For these reasons, I support the proposed development.
I thank those who took the time to attend the community meetings and/or write my office to express their views on the proposed developments. If you have any questions or further comments regarding my decision, please feel free to reply to this email.