Out with the old: college to find new home for Plymouth Court amenities

By Tessa Brubaker, News Editor

Mike Rundle
Along with student residences, Plymouth plays host to the Student Health Center and Counseling Services. The building at 731 S. Plymouth Ct. was sold to 3L Real Estate over the summer.

The last Columbia-owned student housing building was sold over the summer to 3L Real Estate to be converted into residential apartments, leaving the college to determine how the student center will accommodate for the building’s amenities.

Plymouth Court,  731 S. Plymouth Court, was put on the market in September 2017, with 3L Real Estate agreeing to buy the building in a deal valued over $20 million.

Brian Berg, spokesperson for 3L Real Estate, said the company allowed the college to continue to lease Plymouth until the completion of the new student center, which is scheduled to be finished spring 2019.

When the lease expires in August 2019, the building will then be renovated into one, two and three bedroom rental apartments, he said.

“3L [Real Estate] is excited to be able to preserve and improve a building that, like Plymouth, is unique to Chicago and its rich architectural legacy,” Berg said.

The existing kitchens and bathrooms will be updated, and the loft feel of the building will be enhanced. 3L Real Estate has not set a completion date yet, Berg said.

In a Sept. 12 email statement sent to The Chronicle, college spokeswoman Anjali Julka said the college is currently looking for alternate residential options for students beginning in fall 2019.

“Plymouth Court residence hall will remain open to students through May 2019 and will continue to provide students with access to counseling services, the health center and the fitness center,” she said.

In a Sept. 13 email statement sent to The Chronicle, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs and CFO Jerry Tarrer said students will not be affected during the change because the building will continue to run normally until it is handed over to 3L Real Estate. Leasing dorm buildings instead of owning them comes with benefits for the college, he said.

“As buildings age, the deferred maintenance costs amount. Many institutions of higher education find themselves struggling to find the funding to maintain very old buildings,” Tarrer said. “Entering into long-term leases with third-party vendors who have the resources to better maintain the buildings is one way colleges and universities are addressing issues of differed maintenance.”

Coordinator of Fitness, Athletics and Recreation and Adjunct Professor in the Science and Mathematics Department Mark Brticevich said the new gym will be located at the new student center and will be considerably larger, offering more opportunities for fitness classes.

On top of having a fitness center, it will also have two dance studios, a wellness room and prayer room, he said.

“Our hope is that we will have a variety of yoga and dance, we’ll have some street defense, we’ll have spin classes and probably some kind of mix-exercise class,” Brticevich said. “What I’m trying to do is make sure that five days a week we have different classes going on.”

Berg said the renovations for the Johnson Publishing Building, which was purchased by 3L Real Estate in November 2017 for $10 million, as reported Nov. 28, 2017 by The Chronicle, is being worked on right now to create studio, one and two bedroom apartments. Berg said he does not know when those renovations will be completed.