ROGERS PARK — With the 113-year-old St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Rogers Park newly closed as part of a merger, neighbors are pushing for the campus to be used to help the neighborhood.
And some are pushing back against a plan for part of it to be used for Loyola University student housing.
The parish’s campus — which includes a church, adjoining rectory and school building — will be up for sale soon. About 60 community members came together to discuss plans for the closed parish at a Wednesday night town hall 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 Ave.
Former members of St. Ignatius hope to reuse the vacant space as a Loyola-affiliated faith-based resource center, according to the Ignatian Mission Center’s website.
But Loyola officials are also interested in turning one of the buildings — which used to house the Waldorf School — into university housing, Hadden said. This was something they considered in 2019 but halted due to the pandemic’s financial impact on the school.
The committee that envisioned the Ignatian Mission Center is working on a report to address the feasibility of creating the center. The report doesn’t have an official timeline, but it will hopefully be finished by the end of the year, Hadden said.
No official plans or proposals have been made yet, but representatives from the Ignatian Mission Center, the archdiocese, Loyola and the 49th Ward are in contact with each other about the future of the vacant buildings, Hadden said.
Residents who spoke at the meeting expressed concerns about Loyola using the space for student housing.
“Loyola is known for trying to do things … that don’t really benefit the community,” one resident said. “I’m not opposed to having students in the neighborhood — we have them everywhere and sometimes they’re very good neighbors. But we need to be very careful about Loyola’s plans for whatever building they purchase, how many students will live there and how much parking they plan to supply.”
Other residents suggested community organizations should partner to use the space as a hub for neighborhood resources and the city should pursue landmark status for the buildings so the original architecture is preserved.
Hadden acknowledged residents’ concerns about Loyola’s intentions to acquire the property and said she wants to see Loyola develop the properties it already owns.
“We know that Loyola has been a great asset for the community in so many ways, but we also know that many of those properties they own, specifically on Loyola Avenue, are vacant and not serving a purpose to the broader community, and that’s certainly a concern I’ve brought to them as they work on their talks,” Hadden said. “The full plan is something I’ve asked them to be prepared to speak to our community about.”
Hadden also reassured attendees “nothing is happening” yet and no decisions will be made about the future of the buildings without more meetings where community members can voice their opinions.
“We have a community process, and I’m not supporting any proposals, zoning changes or demolitions at this point,” Hadden said. “Loyola and the archdiocese are very aware that what we don’t want is for decisions or deals to happen without our input, without our say, without our partnership.”
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