“A developer’s $4 million deal to buy the historic St. Adalbert Catholic Church property in Pilsen is no longer on the table, marking a second failed effort to sell the building. City Pads entered into an agreement last year to buy the property at 1650 W. 17th St. but that deal has fallen through, Archdiocese of Chicago officials confirmed.
“The property — consisting of the sanctuary, rectory, convent, school and a parking lot — spans 2.1 acres in the heart of the changing neighborhood. St. Adalbert was founded in 1874 by Polish immigrants and the current church building was built in 1912. The archdiocese announced in February 2016 that St. Adalbert would close due to the more than $3 million needed to repair the church’s 185-foot towers, which have been surrounded by scaffolding for years.
“In September 2018, the Archdiocese hired commercial real estate firm SVN Chicago to try to sell the property again. A real estate listing at the time infuriated some Pilsen residents because it touted the church’s iconic towers as ‘perfect for penthouse units.’ The language was later removed.
“The development is the latest in a years-long battle Mexican and Polish parishioners have waged to try to save St. Adalbert Church from being closed and sold. Parishioners have appealed the deconsecration of the church, and the issue is making its way through the Vatican’s judicial system.
“The Society of St. Adalbert group has pitched plans for the site that would maintain the religious character of the church complex. ‘We have a plan that’s supported by the community that doesn’t involve real estate development,’ said group President Julie Sawicki.
“Following the deconsecration of the church in 2019, group leaders said they offered the archdiocese $2.03 million for the property — $1 million for the church and an additional $1.03 million for the rest of the site. But they never heard back about the offer, Sawicki previously told Block Club.
“‘Catholic law is very clear that a Catholic entity has first right to a Catholic church,’ Sawicki said. ‘The church should have been turned over to any Catholic entity. The fact that it hasn’t been turned over is outrageous. Period.’
“‘The [towers] could have been repaired at this point, but, instead, the scaffolding has remained for years and years and additional expenses have racked up.’ The group said they are continuing to fight but understand the property is still for sale. While it’s still listed, ‘we are fighting off developers and we just know that the property needs protection like exterior and interior landmarking in order to save it,’ Sawicki said.
“Since taking office last year, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) has gotten in on the battle, as well. Sigcho-Lopez has tried to have the property rezoned as part of an ordinance introduced in July 2019. If approved, the zoning change would only allow for parks and open space, a tactic meant to tie the Archdiocese’s hands. The alderman has sought to secure landmark status for the former church and rectory. Community members have also submitted proposals to landmark the convent.
“Sigcho-Lopez said he has been clear with the Archdiocese there needed to be a clear, transparent, community-driven process that involved neighbors and former parishioners to determine the future of the site. Sigcho-Lopez said he wants Cardinal Blase Cupich to come to the table and speak with neighbors to discuss proposals that address the needs of the community and serve a public good.
“‘Parishioners and the community need to be included on what’s the best fit for the community,’ he said.” (Pena, 9/17/20)
Beloved St. Adalbert Church In Pilsen No Longer Being Sold To Developer, Archdiocese Says; This is the second time a deal to buy the former Pilsen church campus has fallen through since 2016, Mauricio Peña, Block Club Chicago, 9/17/20