THREATENED: Loyola University Plans Demolition of 1234 W. Loyola Ave. for Vacant Lot

1234 W. Loyola Avenue, R. Bernard Kurzon, 1926. Photo credit: Google Maps
1234 W. Loyola Avenue, R. Bernard Kurzon, 1926. Photo credit: Google Maps
Archie’s Cafe, 1228 W. Loyola Avenue, 1226-1234 W. Loyola Avenue, R. Bernard Kurzon, 1926. Photo credit: Archie’s Cafe

“Far North Side neighbors and local officials are circulating petitions and pushing for landmark status for a building to block Loyola University Chicago from tearing it down.

“Loyola bought the building at 1226-1234 W. Loyola Ave. in December. It houses three small businesses and 35 apartments. All of the tenants will soon be displaced because the university plans to demolish the building so it can be redeveloped, university officials told the student paper, The Loyola Phoenix.

“Archie’s Cafe, 1228 W. Loyola Ave., announced it will close in August. Nathan Abhalter Smith said his art gallery, Roman Susan, has the longest lease which ends in September 2025. Abhalter Smith refused to accept buyouts to shorten its length in hopes he could give all of their neighbors more time, he said.

“‘It just isn’t right that people could become unhoused because they have to leave their apartments before our lease is even finished, leaving their units empty until Loyola eventually demolishes the building without any plan for what’s going to happen next there,’ Abhalter Smith said.

“Kyle Ryan, the 49th Ward’s manager of economic and community development, said they’re trying to find out if the building could qualify for landmark status.

“‘Ideally we’d like to see Loyola exercise all of its options and demolition should be the last resort,’ Ryan said. ‘We’d like to see Loyola work on its mission to be a good neighbor and follow its Jesuit values. We’d like to prevent another vacant lot on Loyola Avenue, like the one across the street that they’ve had for decades now.’

“The flat-iron, Loyola Avenue building is unique because it’s a corner building shaped around the Red Line. It has provided a ‘charming space for generations of local businesses’ and it ‘deserves to be protected for its history and for the sake of the community,’ Sen. Mike Simmons said.

“Simmons’ mother operated her salon, Salon Pastiché, for more than 25 years within the storefront that now houses Archie’s Cafe, a lively community space that frequently hosts local musicians and other neighborhood events.

“‘I know that space intimately, I grew up there,’ Simmons said. ‘I spent my mom’s birthday at Archie’s with the community, listening to music. I thought that my mom would’ve loved to see what the space has become since she passed away. It’s a wonderful legacy. So, you can only imagine the pain it causes for all of us when we see the reckless direction Loyola is going in.’

“‘We live around here, too, and we’d like to have a neighborhood that’s culturally rich and diverse and that helps the culture of Loyola’s campus too,’ Abhalter Smith said. ‘The three small businesses in this building have made it through the pandemic and you can’t re-engineer the spaces we’ve created.’

“‘The number one issue in the district I represent is housing insecurity and the loss of affordable housing,’ Simmons said. ‘Buildings are being knocked down and turned into luxury development, displacing middle and low-income folks, and frankly, mom-and-pop businesses that don’t have any affordable storefronts they can lease.’

“Loyola initially promised to include Simmons in development meetings and communicate with the neighborhood before making final decisions on the building, he said. But the senator found out about the upcoming demolition from social media, he said.

“‘Honestly, I was stunned and very angry to hear about this in that way,’ Simmons said. ‘Because of the issues around the loss of affordable housing, I told Loyola that I absolutely need to be in the loop and they made that commitment, but there was zero follow-up. That’s disrespectful to the community.'” (Padar, Block Club Chicago, 2/19/24)

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

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