Moody Sees the Wisdom of Near North Senior Housing

Rendering of Wisdom Village courtesy of Design Organization

Rendering of Wisdom Village courtesy of Design Organization

The Moody Bible Institute, the largest college in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood and the broadcaster of some of the best Christmas music on the radio each year, wants to put up a new senior housing block called Wisdom Village.

The seven-story building from Design Organization is planned for the eastern half of the half-block bounded by West Oak Street, a private driveway that lines up with North Franklin Street, West Walton Street, and the L tracks.  Right now this is the location of Moody’s tennis courts, a small parking lot, and an old brick warehouse that will make way for a surface parking lot.

One hundred units are planned.  They’re expected to be occupied primarily by seniors who currently live in Jenkins Hall, which is Moody’s men’s and couples dorm a couple of blocks away at Oak and LaSalle.

Which brings up the topic of Jenkins Hall.  What will become of the 14-story building when the over-55’s move out? Moody is bound by  city zoning to have no more than 2,500 students living on the western part of its campus, and isn’t currently asking for an increase in that number.

From a legal standpoint, Jenkins is a regular apartment building, and not part of the rest of the campus Planned Development, so it can carry as many students as Moody wants to stuff in there.  It has its own miniature PD, with a ridiculously low F.A.R. of just 2.8.  Most downtown residential buildings these days have at least a 7, and some are in the neighborhood of 20.

So if Moody decided to tear down the 14-story Jenkins and replace it with something that had a not-very-ambitious F.A.R. of 10, even though Moody is only allowed to build on 25% of that block, the new Jenkins could rise 50 stories. That raises some interesting possibilities considering the flurry of new residential towers being built in the area, especially along the LaSalle Street corridor.

Jenkins is long past its prime, and you don’t have to be Donald Trump’s accountant to see that in real estate terms, LaSalle Street is currently paved with dollar bills.

Here’s the firehose.  Well, it’s more of a garden hose for this project.  But drink up like a seven-year-old on a sticky hot summer day anyway.

  • Developer: Turnstone Development for The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago
  • Architecture firm: Design Organization in River North
  • Address: 301 West Oak Street
  • Address: 300 West Walton Street
  • Stories: Seven
  • Height to roof: 72 feet, 10¾ inches
  • Height to top of parapet: 75 feet, five inches
  • Parking: 76 spaces
Location: 301 West Oak Street, Near North

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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