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Mallinckrodt in the Park

The Pickus Companies, Wilmette, Cook County

Housing Development

Residents approved a referendum authorizing the Wilmette Park District to acquire the land at a cost of $1 million per acre in the spring of 2002, and later campaigned for a plan that would provide for senior housing in the community.

An MPC housing development case study

The development

Mallinckrodt in the Park is an adaptive reuse of an old college building on 17 acres of land in Wilmette. The building was converted into a senior condominium development with 81 units, 12 of which are affordable at price points of $159,900 for one-bedroom condominiums and $199,900 for two-bedroom condominiums. Mallinckrodt’s five-story, 180,000 square foot Italian Renaissance structure has been a celebrated fixture on the Wilmette landscape since 1918. Originally a convent, Mallinckrodt College was later part of Loyola University.

Loyola University’s Board of Trustees decided to relocate its operations in September 2001. The following spring, voters approved a referendum for the Wilmette Park District to purchase the 17-acre site, which occupies a prime location on Ridge Road. The Village retained Hasbrouck Peterson Zimoch Sirirattumrong of Chicago, an architectural and planning firm, to conduct a feasibility study to determine the Mallinckrodt building’s potential for adaptive reuse. The Village changed its zoning code to include “adaptive reuse senior housing” as a special use and received approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow the development to go forward.

The Park District purchased the property for $20 million in October 2002 and subsequently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to interested real estate developers. Wilmette residents wanted to conserve the structure and provide affordable homes for seniors. As a result, the Pickus Companies and Occulus Development were ultimately chosen to develop Mallinckrodt in the Park.

Creating affordability

To qualify for an affordable condominium in Mallinckrodt in the Park, the annual income of a one-person household must be at or below $50,700 and a two-person household must be at or below $58,000, based on the 2014 area median income. The annual rate of increase in value of the affordable homes will be held at three percent as a requirement of a deed restriction attached to the property. The condominiums will be resold to applicants on a waiting list. During the initial sales period, the community was surprised to learn that there was a strong market for affordability in the village. Out of 91 applications for 12 affordable condominiums, half were from Wilmette. Recently, the gap between market rate and affordable prices began to shrink as a result of the recession. However, housing prices have grown more resilient and are beginning to rise again throughout the community.

Public involvement

In early January 2001, residents presented a petition with nearly 5,400 signatures—representing nearly one-third of the community’s 18,000 registered voters—to the Board of Park Commissioners requesting that the community be given the right to vote on whether the Park District should purchase the historic building and its land. In spring 2002, residents approved a referendum authorizing the Park District to acquire the land at a cost of $1 million per acre. The Park District was initially focused on the property’s green space and did not have a plan for the building itself. Residents campaigned for senior housing and initially opposed the developers’ plans to clear the front of the property for an underground parking garage. Once the public understood the developers’ intentions to replant the area once the garage was in place, they dropped their opposition. The developers purchased the building and a total of 3.5 acres from the Park District for $3.5 million.


Department of Community Development, Village of Wilmette

  • Target

    Wilmette’s senior population.

  • Development information

    Type: Multifamily ownership
    Total Units: 81
    Total Affordable: 12
    Affordable Price Points:

    • 1-bedroom: $159,900
    • 2-bedroom: $199,900

    Market Rate Price Points:
    Upper $300,000s to $1.4 million.

  • Funding Sources

    No public funding.

  • Success

    Preserving the Mallinckrodt College building saved the Park District $5 million in demolition costs. In addition, this adaptive reuse created a new source of tax revenue for the community with no additional demand on schools. It was a clear example of preservation, open space and housing all working together to maintain the historic character of the building. During the recession, market rate and affordable prices were getting closer and closer together which caused some worry; however, market rate prices are beginning to rise again.

  • Lessons learned

    Preserving buildings rather than demolishing them can maintain valuable community assets and save money. Community groups working together for affordable housing can succeed even if it does not seem to be a popular cause.