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Uptown’s historic Immaculata High School site tapped for 495-unit residential makeover

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The proposal would convert the Barry Byrne-designed campus into housing units and add a 23-story high-rise

A tall building stands in line with other taller buildings next to low-rise school buildings along Lake Shore Drive.
A rendering of the proposed high-rise addition at 640 W. Irving Park Road (center).
46th Ward Chicago

Chicago’s lakefront rarely sees much in the way of new development since most of the prime waterfront real estate is already built-up. But in Uptown, a team of developers recently revealed a more creative plan to bring nearly 500 units to the corner of Irving Park Road and Marine Drive—just west of Lake Shore Drive.

Here co-developers Keith Giles and Anthology Senior Living, the senior housing division of CA Ventures, want to convert the multi-building campus of the former Immaculata High School into 275 housing units. Under the plan, a new 23-story tower would replace the parcel’s parking lot and contain an additional 220 independent senior living, assisted living, and memory care units. The project would provide a total of 140 parking spaces.

Design firms Perkins Eastman and Level Architecture are listed as part of the development team in a community presentation shared by the office of 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman. The slide show notes that the renderings are to demonstrate the size of the development and that the final building design is “subject to change.”

The historic Immaculata campus was designed by notable Prairie School architect Barry Byrne, who completed the first building in 1922. Byrne worked under Frank Lloyd Wright and supervised the construction of Unity Temple before starting his own practice, where he designed Chicago-area single-family homes as well as numerous Catholic buildings. The Immaculata High School changed hands several times since then and was most recently home to the American Islamic College.

The proposed residential conversion and tower addition would need to comply with the site’s existing landmark designation, reported Uptown Update. The plan requires a zoning change from the Chicago City Council but will need the support of the Buena Park Neighbors and the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee before heading to City Hall, according to the neighborhood publication.

The Uptown parcel is one of only a handful of lakefront locations in the city that can support future high-rise development. It joins the former Chicago Spire site at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, the massive Bronzeville Lakefront proposal at the former Michael Reese Hospital Site, and a vacant parcel at Lake Shore Drive and Waveland Avenue—where developers propose a 19-story rental tower.

A rendering of a tall rectangular glass building towering over an historic brick school building. the tower is flanked by similarly sized high-rise buildings.
A second conceptual rendering showing the 23-story addition (pictured center).
46th Ward