Diocese of Chicago plans to offer headquarters for sale

Posted Sep 15, 2020

[Diocese of Chicago] The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago intends to offer its downtown Chicago, Illinois, headquarters for sale in the coming months, Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee announced on Sept. 15.

The building, located at 65 E. Huron St. on the Near North Side of Chicago, was built in 1967 and significantly renovated in 2012. The diocese spends $750,000 each year to maintain it, a figure that Lee called “increasingly unsustainable.”

“Put simply, maintaining an underused diocesan headquarters in an expensive building on prime real estate is not good stewardship of diocesan assets,” he wrote in a letter to the people of the diocese.

The proposed sale, which will be managed by Andrew Norman and Yolanda Valle of CBRE, will create a fund that would function like an endowment and be governed by the diocese’s Bishop and Trustees, an elected body of laypeople and clergy. “Such a fund would be transformative for your ministry with the next bishop of Chicago and for many decades to come,” said Lee, who will retire as the diocese’s bishop at the end of 2020, after the election of his successor on Dec. 12.

The Bishop and Trustees, which holds title to the property, intends to invest a “meaningful portion” of the sale’s proceeds in affordable housing, said Lonn Myers, the body’s first vice president. “Selling 65 E. Huron would help secure the future of our diocese’s ministry and also let us continue and expand our decades-long commitment to funding affordable housing,” he said. “God calls us to share what we have been given and care for our neighbors.”

Lee said that while the pandemic has confirmed his decision to offer the building for sale, he and the diocese’s leaders have been discussing the idea for nearly a year. It was slated to be sold when he took office in 2008, he said, but when that deal fell through, he sought to address “urgent maintenance and accessibility issues” by launching a fundraising campaign in 2011.

“It was critical to our ministry together,” he wrote of the renovations. “But the world around us has shifted since then, and today we know that the building’s final gift to us can be to help assure the diocese’s long-term financial viability.”

The property is expected to be offered for sale in 2021. “Today is the beginning of a long journey that we will finish with our next bishop,” Myers said. “But we will always be grateful to Bishop Lee for leading us through this decision, which we believe will bear fruit for our churches for decades to come.”