An Update Regarding the Sale of 65 E. Huron
June 22, 2022
During the past two years we have provided periodic updates on the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago’s intention to sell their headquarters at 65 E. Huron, the lot adjacent to the Cathedral. As you may recall, St. James has sought to collaborate with the Diocesan leadership – known as the Bishop and Trustees (B&T) – to ensure that the Cathedral parish is not adversely affected in the aftermath of the sale.
The issue resurfaced this month when B&T announced that it was resurrecting efforts to sell 65 E. Huron, and we are decidedly disheartened to report that St. James would face a potentially profound – and possibly dire – dilemma if the final parameters of the sale adhere to the terms that Diocesan leaders have arbitrarily imposed on our community.
Simply put, the proposed terms of the sale would unilaterally assign new cost burdens to St. James without providing revenues commensurate with those obligations. Those new expenses – partially resulting from B&T’s decision to abdicate its current role as a de facto landlord to the parish – would include full responsibility for the hefty cost of deferred maintenance of the Cathedral building; replacement of heating and cooling systems that would be decoupled from the church structure during demolition of 65 E. Huron; replacement of ADA-compliant access to the building and elevators; and replacement of our existing parish hall and office space for Cathedral staff.
The arrangement seems destined to leave the parish financially impaired, plagued by long-term structural deficits that could force the elimination of ministries which serve the critical needs of our several communities. Indeed, barring some change in the Bishop & Trustee’s plan, we must even account for the possibility that St. James, as a parish, could be forced to close.
Fortunately, there is time to avert such a plight for the parish. The history of real estate development demonstrates that a “win-win” – a proposal that lifts all boats – is possible.
This is why we’re raising awareness now about the manifest harms the property sale as proposed could inflict on the Cathedral. Accordingly, Cathedral Chapter has sent a letter to B&T notifying them of our concerns.
Our letter follows many previous overtures we have made to B&T asking to work in concert on a structure for the sale that would promote the stability of our shared mission and ministries. We remain hopeful that, by clearly explaining to B&T how its proposed terms of sale threaten the Cathedral’s financial future, its members will entertain the dialogue necessary to achieve a mutually harmonious solution, so no harm is done to their mother church.
We will, of course, be keeping the Cathedral community apprised of this issue as it evolves.