“I by no means want to construct a commodity,” Sloniger suggests, sitting down on a sofa on the 18th-flooring out of doors pool deck at Parq Fulton, an condominium tower that the Naperville-centered business the place he’s a companion, Marquette Cos., opened this spring at Randolph Avenue and Ogden Avenue in Fulton Market. “I want to construct a community, generate some thing fantastic, a place in which persons experience like they discovered the correct location for them.”

The Elgin church is 25 several years old the cluster of apartment developments a lot far more current. In 2019, Marquette opened the Mason, a 263-condominium making at 180 N. Ada St. It is the to start with of 4 that line up operating west to a nevertheless-unnamed job at 140 N. Ashland Ave. that is scheduled to open up in late 2023. If all performs out as planned, in the study course of four decades, Marquette will have added 994 flats, as effectively as a 49-room lodge and numerous places to eat, in an area that Sloniger refers to as Fulton West.

In the procedure, Marquette will have pushed the hot Fulton Marketplace community farther west without having pushing out present citizens, as the internet sites concerned were being all industrial or institutional. The new buildings may well also aid pave the way for redevelopment of empty areas all-around the United Middle a couple of blocks farther west and south.

At the identical time, the jobs will present that a guy who grew up looking at his father construct communities in south suburban church buildings can construct a new just one in the city’s most popular segment.

“Darren is a market-price developer who’s a minister. That is a one of a kind character,” says Ald. Walter Burnett, whose 27th Ward encompasses Marquette’s assignments. “He’s received a eyesight of what that location could be, not what it is, and he’s not afraid to devote in the West Aspect. Other marketplace-charge developers would wait for any person else to go above there very first.”

If Sloniger is not concerned to devote in the West Side, which is since he started off out as a developer there, operating in the 1990s for Bethel New Daily life, whose founder, Mary Nelson, pioneered group enhancement and reasonably priced housing in Chicago. He claims Nelson taught him how to use lower-money housing tax credits and historic preservation tax credits. He also figured out from her that “to establish a neighborhood, you have to be incredibly concentrated in a person place,” he states.

Marquette’s structures are concentrated in close proximity to Union Park and the Victorian-design and style Ashland Avenue el station. “They’re the two greatest belongings over here,” Sloniger says, “and they’re the main of the local community we’re setting up.”

Marquette’s ideas in the community are typically new development but integrate some smaller sized present properties, including a historic women’s healthcare facility on Ashland. Like the five-story crimson brick warehouse at Randolph and Ogden in which Marquette strategies a 49-space lodge with a bar and enjoyment venue, the previous Mary Thompson clinic making “contributes to the sensation of becoming in a neighborhood, not just getting dropped into the congestion of significant-increase row, the West Loop,” Sloniger states.

Just one advantage of Sloniger’s Bethel encounter, Burnett states, is that “on reasonably priced housing, he will get it. You never have to push him. He may well not be delighted about (having to pay for) it, but he will get it.” The inexpensive models expected by the town for Marquette’s cluster of assignments will involve some in the structures and some in a constructing it rehabbed a mile southwest on Ogden. The city’s ARO procedures make it possible for developers to meet economical housing specifications with off-internet site models. 

Sloniger, 54, suggests that “as a developer, I never like the cost stress the metropolis results in with its (cost-effective housing) requirements, but as a person who sees the effects it has, I believe it’s awesome.”

That is the kind of two-keep track of pondering that coexists in the intellect of a man who is at after a affluent developer and an ordained minister.

“I grew up weak,” Sloniger states of his childhood in Harvey, Markham and Chicago Heights. His father, Bob Sloniger, was the pastor at a series of south Cook dinner County church buildings, and Darren attended Bible higher education intending to follow the similar path. But soon after a stint in South Africa in 1989 and 1990 revealed the Dutch Reformed Church’s foundational position in apartheid, he resolved “to action absent from the church,” he remembers. Returning to Chicago, he got a master’s diploma in city planning at UIC, interned in the city’s Scheduling Office and went to function for Bethel, combining his interests in religion and town arranging.

“What I hated about the nonprofit globe was getting to offer with the bureaucracy of raising cash, the constant fundraising,” Sloniger states. He started his personal growth organization in the mid-’90s and later on linked with Nick Ryan of Marquette, in which they are now partners. A great deal of Marquette’s portfolio is in Naperville, Houston and Nashville, Tenn. The West Loop, Ryan claims, is largely Sloniger’s bailiwick.

“He has extra of the urban sensibility than I do,” Ryan claims.

In the two many years that the partners have been creating a improvement portfolio, Sloniger has also been a leader—he’s really very careful under no circumstances to say “the” leader—of the church in Elgin. He and the other three pastors all get the job done as volunteers, rotating on a schedule he sets.

“I really don’t join with mainstream churches,” he suggests. “So I established a church for people today who never like church.” He describes providers at West Ridge as largely conversational, about “what individuals are likely by way of,” and says the intention is “for everyone to feel welcome.”

He life with his spouse, Shelby, and six children on 5 acres in Plato Heart, about 47 miles northwest of the West Loop. But Sloniger, who’s “always a lover of very good foods and a fantastic bottle of wine,” according to Ryan, has extended been drawn to the West Loop’s hipness.

Marquette concluded its initial West Loop job in 2014, the 233-device Catalyst at Desplaines Road and Washington Boulevard, east of the Kennedy Expressway. Before long soon after, Sloniger claims, he was acquiring meal with Shelby at Smyth, at Ada and Randolph, and became intrigued by the neighborhood’s rougher-edged west finish.

“It was reasonably vacant more than listed here,” suggests David Zadikoff, a companion in Cornerstone Eating places, which paired up with Michael Jordan in 1998 to open up a restaurant identified as 160blue in a one particular-tale brick making on the web-site exactly where Marquette’s 25-tale Parq Fulton now stands.

Ogden and Ashland “wasn’t exactly where you envisioned a 3-star cafe, but we ended up an attraction,” Zadikoff suggests. In 2012, 160blue closed and Cornerstone opened bellyQ in its place. All the even though, “the restaurant daily life on Randolph Road was relocating west toward us,” Zadikoff says. BellyQ closed in 2018, and in 2020 a authorized entity involved with Marquette acquired the web-site for about $8.9 million, in accordance to the Prepare dinner County clerk.

Equally Zadikoff and Sloniger say there is minor hazard of displacing current citizens, mainly because like the former restaurant website, all of Marquette’s buildings are on formerly vacant or industrial properties.

Burnett claims there is more home to expand west of Ashland without the need of displacement. “I see Darren driving folks so guys begin pondering in another way about what they could do with all individuals floor parking plenty by the United Center” a couple of blocks west and south of Marquette’s Ashland Avenue job.

Sloniger acknowledges progress has been valuable for him. But he’s identified, he states, “to place it to use to make improve.” As a result of their nonprofit, he and his spouse fund West Ridge, the place he leads the system 20 weeks out of the yr. They also fund systems at a faculty on Elgin’s east facet that has a significant incidence of poverty, and a community growth method in Nicaragua. Pressed on how significantly money they devote to these brings about, he suggests it is “a pair hundred thousand a yr.”

Sloniger emphasizes that “we really do not get paid out by the church or by any of these other items. We don’t want it. We want to normally be the major contributor.”

Most of their kids are grown, so when war broke out in Ukraine and quite a few people had been fleeing the state, the Slonigers made a decision to assistance. They flew to Poland, rented a 10-passenger van and drove to the Warsaw train station in which refugees were arriving.

“We practically experienced no plan,” Sloniger states, “and it’s all girls and small children, so thank God my wife was there to convince them it was Alright to come with us.” Finally, the couple negotiated leases to household 150 folks, the costs of which are getting lined by them and donors.

On the way there and back again, the Slonigers flew 1st class. “We pay out for that ourselves,” he claims. “I really do not want any confusion that all the money which is donated is heading to (the refugees’ demands).” 


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