To observers of Hyde Park, the debates over the Shoreland redevelopment plan might seem like the latest in a string of frustrating disputes over historical buildings. Such sites, like the Doctors Hospital, have a habit of remaining vacant as the surrounding community locks horns over how best to use the space. It would be a shame, however, if the Shoreland were condemned to a similar fate. Antheus Capital and its affiliate MAC Property Management have plans to convert the former residence hall into luxury apartments, which Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston must approve before the City Council can vote on them. For the benefit of students and the community, she should do so without further delay.
With University improvements like the Harper Court renovations leading the way, Hyde Park may become a more attractive place to live. The new Shoreland, with its in-house restaurant and views of the lake, would be an inviting option for these newcomers. Leaving the building vacant would do nothing but add another eyesore to the Hyde Park landscape, along with St. Stephen’s Church and Doctors Hospital. The new development would also help make South Shore Drive and the park near Promontory Point safer on summer nights.
In a community meeting a few weeks ago, Hyde Parkers largely supported redevelopment plans. But some worried they did not provide sufficiently for parking, a perennial concern. East Hyde Park was crowded even when the Shoreland was inhabited by largely car-less undergraduates, so it’s understandable that plans for housing targeted at an older population might leave some neighbors wondering how far across town they’ll have to park. However, MAC’s inclusion of 220 spaces for the expected 450 to 500 tenants strikes a reasonable balance between parking concerns and the constraints on garage space that the Shoreland’s size imposes.
In the past, residents have been torn between preserving the past and clearing the way for future development. In this case, most Hyde Parkers seem to agree that the new plans will be a boon for the neighborhood. Alderman Hairston should take advantage of this rare consensus by approving the latest incarnation of Shoreland Hotel.
The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and two additional Editorial Board members.