Moody Bible Institute to sell 10 acres to Chicago high-rise developer

The Solheim Center at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, March 3, 2017. | YouTube/Moody Admissions

Moody Bible Institute has entered into a preliminary agreement to sell off 10 acres north of the evangelical institution’s main campus in the Near North Side of Chicago to a prominent high-rise developer, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Citing real estate sources, the newspaper reports that the institution has entered an agreement with JDL Development in a deal that is expected to bring thousands of new apartments to the area. However, the deal hasn't been finalized. 

JDL Development was founded in 2003 and has gained a reputation as one of Chicago’s premier companies focused on developing high-rise luxury apartments, condominiums as well as single-family homes. 

The price of the reported agreement or what Moody Bible Institute was asking for has not been disclosed. However, The Chicago Tribune reports that offers were expected to top $200 million since the available property is located so close to downtown Chicago. 

Moody Bible Institute is a fully accredited Bible college with other campuses in Illinois, Washington state and Michigan. It was founded in 1886 by Dwight Moody. Since its founding, the institution’s main campus has been located in Chicago’s Near North Side neighborhood. 

The sale of the 10 acres follows the 2017 closure of Moody Bible Institute’s Spokane, Washington, campus, a move made to preserve the institution’s financial standing at a time when many private higher education institutions are facing declining enrollment and financial difficulties.

At the time, Moody also cut faculty and staff at its Chicago campus and closed an extension campus in California. Moody also adjusted undergraduate and seminary programs for cost reduction. Moody still operates its missionary aviation school in Spokane. 

Amid its financial repositioning, Moody put its 10 acres of nonessential Chicago property up for sale last year and hired a brokerage firm to sell the properties located on LaSalle Street, Oak Street, Chestnut Street and Franklin Street. 

A marketing flyer for the land claimed that the 10 acres could support up to 5.3 million square feet of development, according to

The school said it hired the firm to help the school “steward” and get the “greatest value” from the sale of the properties. 

“The Lord has strategically placed Moody in the heart of Chicago for such a time as this, and we are excited for this new season of opportunities,” said Moody Bible Institute President Mark Jobe in a statement released in July 2019.

“We firmly believe the Lord calls us in Matthew 25 to be wise stewards of the resources He has entrusted to us, and it is our desire to exemplify the faithful servants who invested the talents given to them by their master for a greater return.”

In a statement emailed to The Chicago Tribune, a Moody Bible Institute spokesperson would not confirm or deny details of the reported deal with JDL. 

“Moody’s real estate team has been prayerfully evaluating the merits of bids received and has narrowed the field with the expectation of entering into an agreement with a trusted and collaborative development partner soon,” the statement reads. 

In 2018, Moody Bible Institute underwent a leadership change following the resignations of the school's CEO and president amid allegations of questionable practices and a culture of "self-dealing." 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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