Stretch of Greenwood to be closed for dorm

By LINDSAY WELBERS
Staff Writer

The University of Chicago plans to close the 5500 block of South Greenwood Avenue as part of the construction of the dorm that will replace Pierce Hall.

The university will request that the city vacate Greenwood Avenue from 55th Street to 56th Street beginning in the summer of 2015.

The north end of the street will remain open to two-way traffic servicing the Ellis Avenue parking structure and deliveries for the new dorm. The south portion of the street will be turned into green space, connecting the two blocks to the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.

“We’ll turn Greenwood from 55th to 56th … into a private driveway and landscape zone, in effect, for the university,” said project manager Eric Eichler at a meeting Wednesday night.

The green space will be open to the public and a walkway will extend from the corner of 55th Street and University to the Smart Museum.

“Almost all of our observed traffic that goes down Greenwood currently is university employees,” Eichler said. The street will be closed off to the public starting in the summer of 2015.

The Studio Gang-designed three-tower structure will house 800 students and replace Pierce Tower, which the university said has outlived its useful life.

Community residents were concerned that removing the approximately 50 parking spaces in the lot next to Pierce Tower would make parking a challenge.

Eichler said first year students are not allowed to own cars and the students that do will be eligible to use the Ellis Avenue parking structure, which can cost as much as $20 per day.

The residents in the three towers will be a mix of graduate and undergraduate students.

“No one project is going to solve the parking problem,” Will Towns, assistant vice president of neighborhood initiatives, said.

Neighborhood residents were concerned that parking wasn’t being considered or that there was no dialogue with people who live in the area.

“I’m concerned because I’m not hearing a parking solution and we already have problems trying to get parking on the street. We’re not only talking about 800 students but we’re talking about their visitors as well,” said Colleen Jones, who has lived across the street from Pierce for 30 years.

Demolition on Pierce Tower began earlier this month and will continue through December.

A detailed plan for the construction site, including logistics, will be announced next spring.

Construction on the new towers will begin July 2014 and continue through May of 2016.

The trash and loading zones for the three towers will be moved from 55th Street and University Avenue to the Greenwood Avenue side.

l.welbers@hpherald.com