The Clare at Water Tower files bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has been declared for The Clare at Water Tower, an upscale residence near Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus. Here is the story from Bloomberg/Business Week:

The Clare at Water Tower, an upscale residence for elderly people in Chicago, filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors after failing to make debt payments.

Assets and liabilities were each as much as $500 million, the not-for-profit facility said in a Chapter 11 filing dated yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. The Clare defaulted on bond debt of $229 million in September. Revenue has fallen amid the U.S. economic slowdown, said Judy Amiano, chief executive officer of Clare’s developer, Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Service Corp.

“Prospective senior residents are having difficulty selling their homes and have lost significant amounts of their retirement funds in the financial market, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to move into or remain in senior housing facilities,” Amiano said in court papers.

The Clare, a retirement and health-care facility for people over 62, opened in December 2008. Before opening, it had deposits for 220 of its 248 independent living units, the Clare said. As of Nov. 1, 82 units were occupied, an occupancy rate of 33 percent, according to court papers.

Construction of the 53-story building on Chicago’s Gold Coast was funded by a $229 million municipal bond offering. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. is the trustee for the bonds. Bank of America Corp. provided the Clare with a $137.5 million letter of credit.

Loyola Lease

The Clare has a 99-year lease on land owned by Loyola University, the largest unsecured creditor with $1.54 million in unpaid rent. Other unsecured creditors include the city of Chicago for a development obligation of $453,519 and Greystone Development of Irving, Texas, for a contract claim of $356,200.

The residence seeks court approval to borrow as much as $12 million from Redwood Capital Management LLC while in bankruptcy, according to a filing.

“The Clare is dangerously close to running out of working capital,” Amiano said in her declaration.

The case is The Clare at Water Tower, 11-46151, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

–Editors: Stephen Farr, Peter Blumberg

Loyola makes list as best place to work

Loyola University Chicago was named on of the Chicago Tribune’s Top 100 Workplaces for the second consecutive year. Out of all the big corporations throughout the city, the University ranked 18th among all businesses. Here is the story from Inside Loyola.

For the second consecutive year, Loyola University Chicago has been named one of the Chicago Tribune’s Top 100 Workplaces. The University ranked 18th among businesses in the large company category, maintaining its position from 2010.

This year, more than 1,200 University employees participated in the survey, which was administered this summer by WorkplaceDynamics LLC, an independent research company hired by the newspaper. Questions focused on categories such as employee appreciation, pay and benefits, and senior management.

Tom Kelly, senior vice president of administrative services and chief human resource officer, says, “The University is thrilled to once again be recognized in the Tribune’s rankings. We believe this is a great place to work and our faculty and staff members consistently report they are engaged and energized by Loyola’s mission, image, reputation, and the respect and care they experience within the campus community.” Kelly adds that University administrators appreciate the input and want to address their concerns at the institutional, divisional, and college/school level.

One improvement Loyola has made, based on faculty and staff input from surveys like this one, deals with pay and benefits. ”In the past year, we increased the University’s overall retirement contribution and scheme to more closely match our peer and aspirant schools,” Kelly says.

Down the road, Loyola will continue to work on improving collaboration among  different departments. ”Faculty and staff tell us that they have a strong sense of teamwork within their own work group, but don’t experience the same level of cooperation, communication, and shared priorities across the University,” Kelly explains.

In the 24-question survey, faculty and staff overwhelming expressed that they “felt a part of something” and “felt genuinely appreciated” in their roles at the University.

Inside Loyola recently spoke to faculty and staff members to learn more about their feelings toward Loyola.

Arthur J. Lurigio, PhD, professor and associate dean for faculty for the College of Arts and Sciences, believes Loyola is “a highly welcoming and supportive work environment.” During his 22 years as a professor and administrator, Lurigio has “always felt respected, valued, and appreciated as a member of a broader community of teachers, scholars, and advocates for social justice.”

Sarah Malouf, associate director for alumni relations, says she loves working for Loyola because it’s an academic institution with a mission she believes in. “Even among the rest of the Jesuit institutions where being a ‘person for others’ is at the forefront of the educational principles, there’s something fundamentally different about Loyola University Chicago,” she says. Malouf loved Loyola during her time as a student, both as an undergraduate and graduate, and she says being an employee is just as rewarding.

“Loyola is a place where I am challenged to see beyond my own work, beyond my own life,” Malouf says.

The University, along with other top workplace winners, was officially recognized at a congratulatory event on Monday, November 14, in the Chase Auditorium, 10 S. Dearborn, Chicago.

To learn more about the Top Workplaces program and other ranked organizations, click here. On the site, you can also access a feature article from today’s Top Workplaces special section, which includes an interview with Father Garanzini (and other leaders) discussing what it takes to make employees happy. To access that article, click here.

–Matthew Prosia

Loyola students mourning closing of Bananas Foster Cafe

By Emily Bouroudjian

Many Loyola University Chicago students are mourning the loss of the beloved brunch restaurant Bananas Foster Café as it has closed its doors for good.


Bananas Foster, known for its Brunch Buffet, had lines coming out the door on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The cafe, which turned into the BFC Bistro at night, also served dinner including items such as Lamb Stew, Pork Shanks, and Steelhead Trout.

Located on the corner of Granville Ave. and Broadway St., it opened its doors in 2009 and soon became a local favorite. But it closed its doors for good on Oct. 20.

“I was devastated when I heard it was closing” Madeline Marrin, 19, a sophomore environmental studies major, said.

“I like it a lot” said Megan Janezic, 20, a sophomore biology major, “it’s a good place to get off campus.”

The restaurant announced its closing on its Facebook page:

“I am sorry to say, but Bananas Foster Cafe has Closed their doors of good. Thank you to everyone who has supported us.”

The closing came as a surprise to many.

“They expanded not too long ago so I thought they were doing really good” said Leanne Stacey, 19, a sophomore chemistry major “but maybe the expansion was too much”