WEST RIDGE — The Benedictine Sisters of Chicago are one step closer to being allowed to build a senior living center on its campus to better care for its aging population of nuns.
The city’s Zoning Committee voted Tuesday to approve the sisters’ plan to add up to 100 apartments to its West Ridge campus, 7460 N. Ridge Blvd .
The Benedictine order has lived on Ridge Boulevard since 1906. But the campus that once housed 200 nuns is now down to 22, with an average age of 84, said Tyler Manic, zoning attorney for Benedictine.
The senior center would allow the Benedictine Sisters’ to “right size” their sprawling grounds, Sister Judith Murphy, the prioress of the local Benedictine order, said previously.
The independent senior living center would be built on the three northernmost acres of the nearly 15-acre site. The sisters and consulting firm Plante Moran have conceived of a four-story building and a 134-space parking lot, though a developer would determine the final scope of the project. The zoning change allows for up to 100 apartments.
Members of the Benedictine Sisters would move in and the remaining rooms would be available to the public. The units will likely be in demand as there is a projected “significant shortage” of senior living options in the area, Manic said Tuesday.
The building would sit north of the existing private road into the campus, and it would require the demolition of a two-story structure that houses some of the nuns living on the campus. The project would also require demolishing a garden and a hedge “labyrinth,” though Murphy said she hopes the labyrinth could be re-installed elsewhere on the property.
Ten percent of the units would be affordable.
The development would not impact the main monastery building along Ridge Boulevard. Some of the building is used for Cruz School, a K-12 charter school run by Acero. The school operator has a lease on the building through 2024, according to the Benedictine Sisters.
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) said the project garnered 82 percent support among neighbors who weighed in. She said future community meetings will take place when the scope of the senior living development comes into focus.
“We’re excited to make this change to support the sisters,” Hadden said. “There’s more planning to come.”
The Benedictine Sisters came to Chicago in 1861. The order built St. Scholastica Monastery on Ridge Boulevard in 1906 and St. Scholastica Academy the following year.
The high school closed in 2013, citing dwindling enrollment and the cost of running the school.
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