ROGERS PARK — With the recent closure of the 113-year-old St. Ignatius Catholic Church of Rogers Park as part of a merger, neighbors are pushing for the campus to be used to help the neighborhood.
And some oppose a plan to use part of it for Loyola University student housing.
The parish campus, which includes a church, adjoining rectory and school building, will soon be put up for sale. About 60 community members gathered to discuss plans for the closed parish at a Wednesday night public meeting with Ald. Maria Hadden (49th).
St. Ignatius, 6559 N. Glenwood Ave., closed in July after the Archdiocese of Chicago decided to merge its services and congregation with two other nearby parishes: St. Gertrude, 1420 W. Granville Ave., and St. Jerome, 1709 W. Lunt Avenue.
Former St. Ignatius members hope to repurpose the vacant space as a Loyola-affiliated faith-based resource center, according to the Ignatian Mission Center website.
But Loyola officials are also interested in turning one of the buildings — which once housed the Waldorf school — into college housing, Hadden said. It was something they had considered in 2019 but discontinued due to the financial impact of the pandemic on the school.
The committee that envisioned the Ignatian Mission Center is working on a report to examine the feasibility of establishing the center. The report doesn’t have an official timeline, but it should be completed by the end of the year, Hadden said.
No official plan or proposal has yet been made, but representatives from the Ignatian Mission Center, the Archdiocese, Loyola and the 49th District are in contact with each other about the future of the vacant buildings, a Hadden said.
Residents who spoke at the meeting expressed concerns about Loyola’s use of the space for student housing.
“Loyola is known for trying to do things…that don’t really benefit the community,” said one resident. “I’m not against having students in the neighborhood, we have them everywhere and sometimes they are very good neighbours. But we have to be very careful about Loyola’s plans regarding the building they buy, the number of students who will live there and the number of parking spaces they plan to provide.
Other residents suggested that community organizations should partner to use the space as a hub for neighborhood resources and that the city should seek landmark status for buildings so that the architecture of origin is preserved.
Hadden acknowledged residents’ concerns about Loyola’s intentions to acquire the property and said she wanted to see Loyola develop the properties it already owns.
“We know that Loyola has been a huge asset to the community in many ways, but we also know that many of these properties that they own, especially on Loyola Avenue, are vacant and not serving the community. broadly, and that’s certainly a concern I brought to them as they worked through their talks,” Hadden said. “The full plan is something I’ve asked them to be prepared to talk to our community about.”
Hadden also reassured attendees “nothing is happening” at this time and no decisions will be made on the future of the buildings without more meetings where community members can voice their opinions.
“We have a community process, and I don’t support any proposals, rezonings or demolitions at this point,” Hadden said. “Loyola and the Archdiocese are very aware that what we don’t want is for decisions or agreements to happen without our input, without our say, without our partnership.”
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