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CHICAGO-The bulk of a local university’s $85-million redevelopment project will be spent at a building that once was the tallest in the city. The 14-story Mundelein Center building is not located Downtown, but rather nearly eight miles north at 1012-28 W. Sheridan Rd. in the Rogers Park community.

Loyola University could receive up to $20.4 million in tax increment financing for the entire project, which will include work on three residence halls and streetscapes. However, more than $62 million is budgeted for repairing the 76-year-old Mundelein Center, which is on the National Register of Historic Buildings, where 25% of the space is unusable because of its disrepair, says Michelle Dewlen of the department of planning and development.

The tax increment financing proposal, endorsed Tuesday by the community development commission, calls for the university to front-fund the entire project, with reimbursements from the city coming on a “pay as you go” basis, assuming university-owned properties are generating revenue. In addition to its own fund-raising, university officials are considering historic tax credits, says vice president of capital planning Wayne Magdziarz.

To get the $20.4 million in tax increment financing, the university agreed to have the Mundelein Center designated a Chicago landmark, which will give the city additional oversight over changes to its façade. In addition, the university agreed to an approval process that requires community, department of planning and development as well as city council involvement as redevelopment of the lakefront campus continues.

“We’re still in somewhat of a buying mode for strategic properties around our campus,” Magdziarz says. With 15,000 students enrolled at the lakefront campus, the space there is only one-third what is needed for a student body that size, he adds.

When work is completed in 2009, the university plans to move its performing and fine arts programs to Mundelein Center. The building will get new elevator, heating, ventilation and air conditioning as well as electrical systems during its three-year renovation. While “green roofs” will be installed, they will replace portions that already are leaking. In addition, work is needed on the foundation, and the building will be made handicapped accessible.

“This has long been a building, and a project, that has been out there, and one that we recognize is important not only to the university but the community,” Magdziarz says.

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