September 23, 2004
Vol. 24 No. 1

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    University continues planning for South Campus development

    By Peter Schuler
    News Office

    The South Campus from the vantage point of Harper Memorial Library

    As part of continuing development of the 1999 campus Master Plan, the University is presenting several construction projects on the South Campus for discussion and approval. They include a new residence and dining hall for undergraduates; a parking structure with space for retail and University offices; and a renovation of the currently empty Illinois Bell Building. Construction on these projects is expected to begin by 2008.

    Hank Webber, Vice President for Community and Government Affairs, and 20th Ward Alderman Arenda Troutman met with Woodlawn community residents Wednesday, Sept. 8, to provide an update and possible timetable for the South Campus planning and construction, and to discuss the University’s goals and specific projects with neighborhood leaders and residents.

    Tomorrow, the University will launch the South Campus Plan Web site, which will include the presentation made at the Woodlawn meeting earlier this month; a list of frequently asked questions; an online forum to post comments from the campus and the community; and a timeline that will be updated as the planning phase moves into construction. The address is http://www.uchicago.edu/docs/mp-site/construction/.

    “Our South Campus Plan is part of a planning process for the campus that we started in 1999,” said Webber. “Change and growth are both inevitable and essential for an institution of our stature and scope, and our planning process sets our course for both the short and long term.” Webber also noted that South Campus planning must be “in harmony with the wonderful rebirth of the Midway Plaisance” now in progress. The gardens, playgrounds and activity centers on the Midway are part of the Master Plan for the Midway Plaisance that the Chicago Park District and the University created.

    Numerous projects have been completed or are nearing completion in the central and west areas of campus, and new projects for the south and west campus will maintain the intense pace of the University’s building programs. Among the near-term projects for the South Campus are a new undergraduate residence and dining hall; a mixed-use building with retail, University office and parking space at 61st Street and Woodlawn Avenue; and renovation of the now empty Illinois Bell Building into space for a variety of University purposes.

    South Campus goals include provisions for academic, student life, administrative and support space that will be needed by the University for the foreseeable future, as well as integrating the South Campus with the broader campus.

    An active streetscape is envisioned for 61st Street that will tie the campus closer to the Woodlawn neighborhood. Space for neighborhood retail amenities and services, now unavailable on the South Campus, will be included in the new buildings, as well as additional parking and infrastructure for the University’s projected growth.

    “In addition,” Webber said, “an essential element of this process is support for the ongoing revival of the Woodlawn neighborhood.”

    Along with the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation and the Woodlawn Organization, the University is a sponsor of the New Communities Program/Woodlawn, now in the final stage of creation in a five-year Quality of Life Plan. The program is funded by the MacArthur Foundation and managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.