In August the University executed a contract to sell the Shoreland dormitory, which has housed University of Chicago students since the 1970s. The dorm, far from campus and showing its wear but offering apartments with views of the lake, was unique in its ability to inspire admiration and disgust among its residents.
The building will be re-let to U of C to continue as a dormitory until 2007 or 8, with the University committed to maintaining the dorm during that time, according to Harold Lichterman, of Kenard Corporation, the building's buyer.
He went on to say that the deal would have no practical effect on the students in the building. "The school will still be managing the building," he explained.
Kenard plans to turn the building in 281 condominium units. Prices of the units have yet to be set, said Lichterman.
The sale price of the building was reported as $6 million in the Hyde Park Herald, although Hank Webber, the Vice-President of Community Affairs for the University would not confirm that price.
"As a matter of policy, we don't disclose sale prices until the closing," explained Webber. "In this case the deal is a little more complicated because the building will be rented back to us." The closing date of the sale is in mid-November, said Webber.
Construction on the building will consist of the restoration of the exterior and lobby, along with the ballroom. Plans are to house a restaurant in that space, although Lichterman said it was too early to know what sort of restaurant.
As part of the due diligence period, Kenard is meeting with neighbors for feedback on their building plans. "They're very good at that," said Webber. Lichterman declined to comment on the residents' concerns.
Bob Mason of the South East Chicago Commission, a planning group for the South Side, said that residents were mostly concerned and an overabundance of one-bedroom apartments as opposed to two- and three-bedroom apartments, and with sufficient parking. "The first thing that people ask is, "Where am I going to park my car?" said Mason.
Kenard was able to satisfy parking concerns by achieving a one-to-one ratio of parking spaces to building units, said Lichterman. To achieve that ratio, a parking garage will be built into the back of the building, with the exterior of the parking garage built to mirror the architecture of the main building.
For his part, Lichterman said that he would in fact prefer to build two- and three-bedroom apartments because they are cheaper than one-bedroom. "We can eliminate a kitchen if two one-bedroom units are converted into a two-bedroom unit," Lichterman explained.
He further indicated that he would sell what the market demanded.
A passageway that leads into the Shoreland from 5490, just south of the building, will be kept to allow for better parking garage access for the residents of that building
According to hydepark.org, a website run by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, residents thought one-bedroom units would encourage "investors" or parents buying for students. One bedroom units tend to attract singles and newly-weds with a "different," noisier lifestyle, and drive up parking demand, said the website.
The timeline calls for the students to be out in 2007 or 8, or whenever the University finishes completion of their new dorm on 61st and Ellis to replace the Shoreland as a residence hall. "It's dependent on them," said Lichterman.
As for The location of the new dorm, after the University moves out, there would be a sales period of 6-8 months. With financing in hand, construction will begin and take around 18 months. Occupancy is planned for 2009-10.
Mason said that the loss of 650 students would not hurt the community. "It will bring more permanent residents into the neighborhood," he explained. Also, the up-market nature of the building would likely attract people with more disposable income than college students.
The future of the Cove was not in doubt, he said, because the 55th Street dive bar attracted so many community residents. Further, he noted, "most of the residents of the Shoreland can't drink, right?"