All around Chicago, abandoned churches are being repurposed into new apartment and condo buildings. It’s not an ideal situation to those wistful for the days when a neighborhood church held the community together, but when put in “green” terms, the most environmentally-friendly structure is one that’s already built.
But that kind of adaptive reuse may not be in the offing for Saint Boniface (1358 West Chestnut Street) in West Town.
There was a meeting about the future of the church building a few days ago and word from the East Village Association is that neighbors were told that the church could be knocked down and replaced by a six-story apartment building with 40 residences and a quartet of townhouses. The church was designed by Henry J. Schlacks and built in 1904. It closed in 1990.
Previous plans for the property have included a 10-story apartment building with 105 residences over three floors of parking. Neighborhood groups are opposed to any plan involving apartments, or the demolition of the church. They feel the church has architectural significance, and the neighborhood has too many apartments. They’d like to see the church building turned into a small number of larger condominiums.
The project was taken over by Carefree Development in 2013. Carefree has a history of building low-scale senior housing. At the meeting, neighbors were told that Carefree has a new partner: Harlem Irving Companies. Plans for the church property are described by the East Village Association as “fluid.”