Loyola University | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times file photo

Protesters say Loyola dorm plan threatens environment, cuts affordable housing

SHARE Protesters say Loyola dorm plan threatens environment, cuts affordable housing
SHARE Protesters say Loyola dorm plan threatens environment, cuts affordable housing

A group of protesters gathered Sunday on the North Side to oppose a plan by Loyola University Chicago to build a new dormitory.

The school plans to build the new 400-plus bed dormitory in the 6300 block of North Winthrop Avenue.

The land currently houses a home that was built in 1912, a vacant lot and a 63-unit apartment building that offers rent ranging from $780 to $1,400, according to Marjorie Fritz-Birch, a community activist and board member of the Edgewater Historical Society.

Fritz-Birch organized Sunday’s small demonstration to point out several negative side effects of the project and to demand the community have a seat at the table on such matters.

“We’re trying to stop tear downs for environmental reasons; the demolition will needlessly fill up landfills. Re-use and re-purpose is what we are promoting. Demolition releases old building material and dust into the air. All they do is spray water on it,” Fritz-Birch said.

“Also, with the demolition of this apartment building, there will be a loss in the neighborhood of affordable places to live,” she said. “And that building will be taken off the tax rolls and the tax burden will grow for the rest of us.”

A statement released by the university countered these claims.

“It has always been a market-rate apartment building, not categorized as ‘affordable.’ The average rent there this year was $1,096 per month, which is not significantly different from the average rent in Edgewater that is $1,098 per month,” the statement read.

The new dorm will be energy-efficient and “there are plans to divert some of the buildings’ artifacts and building materials away from landfills and into re-use salvage yards and shops,”according to the statement.

Fritz-Birch, along with folks from the Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project, are urging Loyola to build the dorm on the vacant lot between the two existing structures.

So far, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, Fritz-Birch said.

“We’ve reached out to the university president and other leaders from the school and so far they’re refusing to meet with us and talk to us,” she said.

“They just basically buy up property and do whatever they please with no input,” she said.

The university disputed this notion.

“The University participated in a number of community meetings in 2018, including one held by Alderman Harry Osterman in late August, which welcomed conversation regarding a zoning variance needed for the construction of the building,” according to the university’s statement.

Osterman was not immediately available for comment.Construction on the new dorm is slated to begin in 2019.

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