LINCOLN PARK — The Cenacle complex in Lincoln Park could be demolished and redeveloped into a series of single-family homes after plans for the demolition cleared a key city panel last week.
The Cenacle Sisters, a dwindling congregation of aging nuns, are looking to demolish and sell the property, located at 513 W. Fullerton Parkway, to raise money to care for their population, according to Ald. Michele Smith (43rd).
The Chicago Landmarks Commission approved their request for the demolition during its meeting Thursday after ruling that the complex did not contribute to the surrounding Mid-North historic district, a landmarked collection of mostly brick rowhouses that were built in the last three decades of the 19th century.
The Cenacle is a religious retreat center and conference space ranging from one to seven stories in height that was built in 1967. The demolition request will now go before the full City Council for final approval.
The Cenacle’s demolition was supported by neighbors from the Mid-North Association, according to its leader Tom Moore, so long as the new structures replacing the complex are architecturally consistent with the housing in the immediate area.
“The community is sad to see them go, and it creates some concern as to what will replace this large piece of land,” Moore said.
Because the Cenacle is “literally in the heart of the Mid-North District,” Smith said, it’s important that developers’ plans for the Cenacle’s lot are consistent with the lot’s surrounding architecture.
“So we’re very concerned that what comes on this site are related to the proportions of the buildings in our landmark district,” Smith said.
Plans for what will replace the Cenacle are still being worked out between developers and the community, according to Rolando Acosta, an attorney representing the Cenacle Sisters. But the redevelopment will likely consist of a series of single-family homes and two-flats, he said.
“The future plans just to preview it for you is to divide the property along its Fullerton frontage, along its Cleveland frontage and along its east-west Cambridge frontage into individual lots that would be developed,” Acosta said. “Those homes would have to come before this commission for approval and conform to the existing zoning.”
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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