New Catholic school building slated for South Loop
(Crain’s) — The Archdiocese of Chicago plans to start work in June on a new school building on a South Loop site purchased from a venture including restaurateur Matthew O’Malley.
The 33,000-square-foot elementary school building is to be completed in 2011 next to Old St. Mary’s, 1500 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago’s oldest parish that has seen its school’s enrollment grow amid the housing boom on the Near South Side. The school is currently located in a 12,000-square-foot former warehouse.
The archdiocese bought property for the school in 2008 from a venture managed by Matthew O’Malley, whose Mainstay Hospitality LLC runs well-known Chicago Firehouse restaurant, Grace O’Malley’s Restaurant & Pub and Wabash Tap, all near the church, according to the Cook County Recorder.
Mr. O’Malley’s venture sold for $2.4 million, after paying $1.35 million for it in 2005, property records.
Mr. O’Malley has a daughter at the school and is also donating to the building project. He was at the center of a controversy several years ago over an agreement with Chicago Park District to operate the Park Grill restaurant in Millennium Park. He could not be reached for comment.
The school, which opened in 2004, offers pre-kindergarten through fourth grade and now has about 170 students. A grade is being added each year, with some 215 students expected to be enrolled next school year, says the principal, Mary Lee Calihan. The school is getting many more applications than it can accept, she says.
The new building will be primarily a school, with some meeting space for parish use, says the Rev. Mike Kallock, Old St. Mary’s pastor. Newman Architecture of Naperville designed the building.
The school is proposed for a site that includes some land that the archdiocese already owned. The archdiocese has requested a zoning amendment for the property, and is represented by attorney Thomas S. Moore of Chicago law firm Anderson & Moore.
The parish is also growing, with more than 1,200 people at Masses on Sundays, up from about 500 when the church moved to its current site in 2002, says Rev. Kallock, who has been pastor since 2006.
The archdiocese is financing the $6-million construction project without loans, and the parish will have to pay back the money. The project has been scaled back from original plans that were too costly, Rev. Kallock says.