Metro-East News

Shrine leaders freeze plans for $28M senior housing project

The multimillion plan to redevelop and renovate the senior housing center at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows has been placed on hold.

Leaders at the center, which is called The Esquiline, A Life Plan Community at The Shrine, announced the improvement project in the spring of 2018 but are now reassessing their construction options.

“We wish to do further due diligence before moving forward with the construction project as currently planned,” said Thomas Vernier, chairman of The Esquiline board, in a news release.

The proposal had called for a new three-story, independent living apartment building, 10 courtyard homes for independent living; new memory care and skilled care areas; and the renovation of existing buildings.

Last year, the project was estimated to be worth $33 million to $35 million but in the latest news release it is valued at $28 million.

The initial proposal had included plans for expansion of assisted living and memory care services but those plans were dropped, which accounts for the lower estimated value of the project, according to Will Shaw, spokesman for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the religious group that owns the Shrine and The Esquiline.

Shaw said in an interview that goals set for signing up potential residents had been met but that the Oblates want to continue to review the project before breaking ground.

The Esquiline.jpg
This drawing of The Esquiline shows the proposed courtyard homes in the foreground, the existing apartment building in the center and a proposed apartment building to the right. The redevelopment and renovation project at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville was announced last year but now officials have placed the project on hold. Provided

“They want to take another look and make sure that the money would be well spent and would be worthwhile,” Shaw said. “They just want to take a look at everything.”

All potential residents who made deposits for the new homes have received refunds with interest, Shaw said.

The project originally was scheduled to begin this year.

As far as a timeline for reviving the project, Shaw said it was too early to say when that could occur. It’s also too early to say what size of a project would be implemented.

“Some or all of it could come back,” Shaw said. “I’m quite sure that they intend to go through with something in the foreseeable future but they’re going to take another look first.”

The Esquiline’s news release said the group and “its stakeholders are revisiting certain project elements to determine how best to serve current and future residents.”

The Esquiline previously was called the The Apartment Community of Our Lady of the Snows and the apartments first opened in 1966.

The center is in the rear of the 200-acre Shrine property off Illinois 15 on the west side of Belleville.

Illinois 15 corridor

While the Shrine project is on hold, another development for senior living is moving forward in the Illinois 15 corridor.

The Villas of Holly Brook is under construction at the intersection of South 11th Street and Frank Scott Parkway near Belleville West High School.

Hadley Phillips, one of the developers of The Villas of Holly Brook, said the assisted-living and memory care building is expected to be finished in June.

The project has been valued at $9 million when it is built and fully furnished.

For more information on this center, call 618-744-0231 or go to

Villas of Holly Brook.jpg
This photo shows The Villas of Holly Brook in Brazil, Ind., and the assisted living center owners have started construction on a similar building off Frank Scott Parkway near Belleville West High School. Provided

Meanwhile, two other developments previously announced for the Illinois 15 corridor — hotels, restaurants and a convenience store next to the Hofbräuhaus and professional offices and high-end homes off Frank Scott Parkway — have not opened.

The Keller family of Effingham said over three years ago that up to four hotels would be built next to the Hofbräuhaus but the hotels have not been built as announced. Also, other restaurants and the convenience store have not been built.

The Hofbräuhaus German restaurant and brewery opened in March 2018 off Illinois 15 across from the Shrine.

A spokesman for the Keller family could not be reached for comment.

Todd Keller, who is not related to the Keller family of Effingham, said in 2015 that he planned to build upscale homes and professional office buildings near Belleville West High School off Frank Scott Parkway but they have not opened.

He could not be reached for comment on the status of the development called Parkway West.

Belleville assistance

The city of Belleville spent $2.42 million to extend sewer lines to the Hofbräuhaus site and over $700,000 to extend sewer lines in the Frank Scott Parkway area near The Villas of Holly Brook and Parkway West sites.

Mayor Mark Eckert has said the city extends sewer lines to vacant land in an effort to spur economic growth.


Why did we report this story?

We wanted to give BND readers an update on a significant project at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows that was initially announced in the spring of 2018 but now has been placed on hold. Older adults who had considered moving to the senior housing center at the Shrine can check out the information we gathered about The Villas of Holly Brook.

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and is from St. Louis.