These are just a few of the many possible uses that will be fully vetted by a newly formed feasibility committee. This committee will be charged with envisioning how the Priory space can best be utilized to fulfill Fenwick students’ current and future needs while advancing the Fenwick mission to educate students to “lead, achieve and serve.”
This will be done in concert with the overarching goals of the current facilities master plan and the Centennial Campaign. If identified needs can be met with space at the Priory, that will be taken into consideration alongside the current master facilities plan, and vice versa. If the Priory can meet some current or additional needs, what changes, if any will be made to the Centennial Campaign?
The Priory property is currently zoned for educational, recreational and institutional use, and the Village of River Forest strongly prefers to keep it that way and to retain at least the original 1924 Priory building that was designed by the same architect as Fenwick High School, Wilfred E. Anthony. As a result, potential interest and bidding may be limited, but there is interest.
Last week Fenwick submitted a Letter of Interest (LOI) to Jones Lang LaSalle, the broker representing Dominican University. Two days later Oak Park River Forest District 200 (the high school) also submitted a LOI. The LOI commits Fenwick to nothing, but essentially gives us an option to stay in the discussion and continue our due diligence.
This is an opportunity Fenwick cannot ignore. There is no better natural buyer for this property than Fenwick. Any other potential buyer would be surrounded by Fenwick fields, which may make for uncomfortable bedfellows in the best of circumstances. With a friendly landlord for the leased field space, owning the Priory property would also place Fenwick in a position of significant strength if the Province of St. Albert the Great ever decided to sell the current field space. As we all know, no more land is being made, and that is even more true in Oak Park and River Forest!
Whatever the outcome to all of the above is, purchasing the Priory property and completing the Centennial Campaign – as is or revised – will require significant philanthropic support. This letter is to inform you that Fenwick is actively pursuing this opportunity, but I also ask you to dream about the possibilities of a “Priory Campus” as part of Fenwick’s second century: