THREATENED: Loyola University Plans to Demolish 1234 W. Loyola Avenue Without Redevelopment Plans

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

“Loyola purchased the property at 1226-1234 W. Loyola Ave. Dec 19, adding the building to their list of properties owned in the surrounding area.

“Michael Loftsgaarden, Loyola’s vice president of capital planning, said there are currently no construction plans, but the building will be torn down once the leases run out in September 2025.

“‘The reality of the situation was we felt like, ‘Hey, we got this for a good price that makes sense to us,” Loftsgaarden said. ‘Its assemblage value is the primary driver here for a future development, whatever, it just makes total sense for that. But again, there’s nothing on the board right now.’

“Lofstgaarden said he was approached by a broker representing Mark Gerb — the building’s previous owner — April 29. After months of negotiations and reviewing the legal terms of purchase, the university officially bought the property.

“Loftsgaarden said the price Loyola purchased the building for — $3 million — was far below the previous owner’s asking price due to the poor state of the building, which he said isn’t functionally or fiscally sustainable.

“‘Our plan is to let all our leases run out in the building,’ Loftsgaarden said. ‘As leases come available, we’re not renewing, and the plan will be to vacate the building and after that try to get it demolished.’ (Gates, The Loyola Phoenix, 12/31/23)

“Archie’s Cafe is being forced to close this summer after Loyola University bought its building with plans to redevelop the site.

“In 2018, Roberta Schmatz opened Archie’s Cafe, 1228 W. Loyola Ave., after years of running arts spaces and programs from the storefront. The cafe came to be known as a community hub that hosted local musicians and neighborhood events.

“Its future is now in jeopardy, as it will be forced to leave its space after August, when its lease expires, Shmatz said.

“Loyola bought the building that houses Archie’s in late December, property records show. The university has agreed to honor all current leases in the building and plans to demolish the structure after tenants vacate, Loyola’s vice president of capital planning told student paper The Loyola Phoenix. The building also holds Roman Susan art space, Edge Art Gallery and 35 apartments.

“Some tenants’ leases expire after Archie’s, so Schmatz is trying to negotiate to stay longer. If they’re not able to stay, Schmatz might reopen Archie’s in a new location, but “it’s all still up in the air,” she said.

“‘We hope to have a great year, but I don’t know what will happen after this,’ Schmatz said. ‘I’ve been in that space for a long time, even before it was Archie’s, and I love that little tucked-away sunny spot.’

“The university plays a vital role in the neighborhood, but Shmatz said she isn’t certain demolition of her building is in the best interest of the entire community.

“Roman Susan, the art gallery whose future is also uncertain after the building sale, is asking Loyola to consider its building plans and the impact on the neighborhood.

“‘We implore Loyola University … to recognize the importance of this place and its inhabitants,’ a letter from Roman Susan’s founders to Loyola reads. ‘It seems Loyola is growing and requires new amenities. The residents of this building also require a place to live and our neighborhood requires cultural spaces to thrive.’ (Padar, Block Club Chicago, 2/8/24)

Read the full story at The Loyola Phoenix and Block Club Chicago


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