Benedictine University’s vacancy raises frustration and dialogue
The future of the now vacant Benedictine University campus in Springfield is sparking concern in the community.
Monday night, leaders across Illinois met to show neighbors what's to come for the buildings.
On campus, there are13 historic buildings, some of which have been there for over 150 years.
Residents said they're worried that whatever comes to town will either help or hurt them.
"No, no, I thought the school was always going to be here,” one nearby resident, Judy Crespi, said.
Crespi graduated from Ursuline Academy, a Catholic high school at the time, in 1971.
Later, Benedictine University officially shut down in April of this year, and now there’s a new problem.
"What are they going to do with it,” one resident, Nick Newman, said. “Is it going to end up condemned and abandoned? And you know I’m sure nobody wants to see that around here at all."
Some neighbors are frustrated and said they don't know what will happen if the campus stays vacant.
“I think the crime rate will probably rise a little here over time,” Newman said. “I don't think it would happen overnight, but you know over a period of time I feel like that would happen."
Ward 5 Alderman Andrew Proctor said he doesn't want to see the buildings torn down.
“Whatever happens here,” Ald. Proctor said. “Will have domino effects throughout the rest of the neighborhood and the north end and Springfield and so when I learned that the University was looking to sell this property, I called the President and said, ‘You have to get the community involved’."
Benedictine University’s President, Michael Brophy, agreed.
"It broke our hearts [to close] because we know how much this means to Springfield,” Brophy said.
He said he will work with the community to figure out how to move forward.
“Yeah, we will be a part of this,” Brophy said. “And I’m sure after a sale because we will have to make sure it all going well."
There are some possible outcomes feared by residents.
"The number one thing is to not get torn down,” Ald. Proctor. “We don't want to see uses that would be conflicting with the rest of the neighborhood like taverns bars whatever, video gaming parlors and stuff like that."
Some neighbors said it could be another campus, a bed and breakfast, or a new housing complex.
The university's realtor said this campus is already listed to over 6,000 contacts worldwide.
Springfield's portion of Benedictine University closed in April due to low enrollment and financial issues.
Benedictine said it was fiscally responsible to close.
If you have any concerns or would like to add your voice to the ongoing dialogue, you can contact Ald. Andrew Proctor. If someone is interested in purchasing the campus you can visit: Springfieldcampusoffering.com.