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CHICAGO-North Park University hopes to open a recreation center at the southwest corner of Kedzie and Carmen avenues in time for next year’s incoming freshman class. The $11-million project, recommended for approval Thursday by the plan commission, comes while the private university on the North Side bucks a nationwide trend by reducing tuition.

“We’d like to start before the end of the year,” chief financial officer Carl E. Balsam tells GlobeSt.com. “But we’re going over a little bit over the design.”

The one-story, 67,000-sf recreation center will replace a building now used by a plumbing supply company, which is relocating to an industrial area about two miles away at Peterson and Pulaski avenues. It will include basketball and volleyball courts, an indoor running track, offices and classrooms.

“All of this is being done while North Park University is reducing its tuition for its students,” says 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone. Meanwhile, 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino notes the university has spent $3.5 million on landscaping its 20.5-acre campus. “The greening up of this university has been spectacular over the last 10 years,” she adds.

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