THREATENED: DePaul Pushes forward with Plans to Demolish Sheffield-Belden Group (Chicago 7 2024)

Sheffield-Belden Group, northwest corner of Sheffield and Belden Avenues. Freestanding townhouses, 2314 and 2316 N. Sheffield, John Morrell and others, 1890-1893. Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky / Esto
Sheffield-Belden Group, northwest corner of Sheffield and Belden Avenues. Courtyard building, 1000-1012 W. Belden and 2300-2302 N. Sheffield Avenue, Maher & McGraw, 1926. Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky / Esto

“DePaul University is moving forward with efforts to demolish century-old homes to make way for a new sports facility, but it has added to its plans to appease preservation-minded neighbors.

“While its plan calls for razing four 19th-century rowhouses, DePaul is now committing to preserving three other historical buildings on campus as a compromise with neighbors who worry the new development could diminish the area’s charm.

“The new athletics facility would come to the 2300 block of North Sheffield, replacing four rowhouses dating from the 1890s. While those buildings would come down, DePaul in exchange is committing to preserving and landmarking Cortelyou Commons, Byrne Hall and O’Connell Hall, according to university officials.

“DePaul University officials will present the updated plan to the public during a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 29 at Cortelyou Commons, 2324 N. Fremont St.

“If Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) supports the plan, construction will likely begin in summer 2025, said Peter Coffey, associate vice president for community and government relations at DePaul University. The project requires city approval.

“Not all neighbors and preservationists are on board with the compromise plan, however.

“To build the new athletics facility, the university plans to demolish four rowhouses located at 2308, 2310, 2314 and 2316 N. Sheffield Ave. DePaul’s courtyard building at 2300-2302 N. Sheffield Ave., which was built in 1925 and houses about 40 student apartments, would also be torn down.

“The buildings at 2310 and 2316 N. Sheffield Ave. are orange-rated in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, meaning they are potentially historically significant and require a historically minded review before demolition permits are approved.

“Some groups, including the Sheffield Neighborhood Association and Preservation Chicago, asked the university to consider preserving the buildings and use other DePaul-owned sites for expansion, like the surface parking lot at the intersection of Fullerton and Sheffield avenues.

“‘We wish the university well and understand their needs for expansion, but the sites they’re selecting aren’t the most ideal,’ said Ward Miller, director of Preservation Chicago. ‘I think it will bring about a tipping point with the community. I don’t think they want to be in a situation where the community feels out of sync with the university.’

“Brian Comer, president of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association, said he hopes DePaul can find another location for its sports facility.

“‘We want the university to be able to offer their student athletes a wonderful experience,’ said Brian Comer, president of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association. ‘If the university didn’t have any other property, it’d be a different conversation, but they do and they could allow our gorgeous architecture to remain.’

“Sheffield Neighborhood Association provided a list of about 10 buildings that should be preserved due to their history and architecture, Comer said. From the list, DePaul officials chose two to pursue landmark status for Cortelyou Commons and Byrne Hall. They also committed to investing in O’Connell Hall’s facade, Coffey said.

“Erik Heitmann, president of neighborhood improvement group Lincoln Central Association, said he understands DePaul University’s need to expand and appreciates the changes officials have made to ensure the building is more pedestrian-friendly and visually appealing. But he also supports efforts to protect historical buildings in the area.

“‘We’re feeling significant pressure from development and we’re seeing a rather dramatic loss of historic properties in the neighborhood,’ Heitmann said. ‘It’s a great first step to see DePaul committing to protecting other buildings, but this still certainly impacts the community. We’re a community that values our historic character and we’d like to see development that coexists with that.’ (Padar, Block Club Chicago, 4/11/24)

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

DePaul Adjusts Sports Facility Plan, But 1890s Rowhouses Would Still Be Demolished, The university now promises to preserve three other historical campus buildings — but still plans to demolish four rowhouses to make way for the facility, Kayleigh Padar, Block Club Chicago, 4/11/24



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