The St. Boniface Church adaptive reuse project is scheduled to be presented to the Chicago Plan Commission for preliminary zoning approval in April 2018. The current design plans for the historic church will be converted to 17 for-sale residences and 24 more will be located in the new construction low-rise building to the east. Northwestern Settlement, a local Noble Square nonprofit, will be housed in a new two-story building to the north.
Northwestern Settlement was the best fit for this project,” said Michael Skoulsky of Stas Development. “They’re currently located a just block away and have been doing great work in the neighborhood for 126 years.” (Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 3/3018)
Restoration and reuse will finally come for St. Boniface Church with its four square red-brick towers of that have visually dominated Eckhart Park and provided an emotional sense of place to the Noble Square/West Town community since 1904.
26 years after St. Boniface Church held its last mass, and after 16 long years of relentless preservation advocacy and a last minute sale before demolition; we are thrilled that the St. Boniface adaptive reuse is finally moving forward. The Romanesque church designed by architect Henry Schlacks and located at 1348 W. Chestnut Street was nominated as a Chicago 7 Most Endangered Building in 2003. Preservation advocacy efforts were sustained since then culminating on September 23, 2017, when with demolition scheduled for the following Monday morning and moments before the hard deadline of Friday at 5 p.m., the building was sold to Stas Development.
“This morning in another meeting I was told that there was no safety net for this project. If the deal didn’t close today, it was all over.” said Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago, with regard to the last minute save.
Michael Skoulsky of Stas Development is committed to a preservation sensitive restoration and adaptive reuse. Working with Space Architects + Planners, the design intent is to compliment the historic church building. As far as project timing goes, Noble Square residents can expect work to begin on St. Boniface before anything else. “The church is the priority. It’s been 30 years and the neighborhood is ready,” Michael Skoulsky told Jay Koziarz from Curbed Chicago.
The road to St. Boniface’s preservation has been long, complex, and difficult. Despite that the prospects for success seemed remote at times, Preservation Chicago never lost hope and never stopped advocating for a preservation-oriented outcome.
Preservation Chicago’s leadership role was pivotal in this save, but many preservation partners worked tirelessly to support St. Boniface. Preservation Chicago wishes to recognize and celebrate Michael Skoulsky of Stas Development. David Ruttenberg of Marc Realty Capital, Skoulsky’s equity partner in the project, and Northwestern Settlement House. The courageous leadership of Eleanor Gorski and Dijana Cuvalo, City of Chicago Landmarks Division and Lisa Misher, City of Chicago Senior Counsel, was instrumental to this process. Persistent advocacy from Lisa Dichiera at Landmarks Illinois and the continued interest of local press kept the fight for St. Boniface in the public spotlight. Neighborhood organizations including Neighbors of St. Boniface lead by the Kevin Stawiarski, East Village Association’s Bob Zwolinski Scott Rappe, and Gladys Anselmo, along with Preservation Chicago Board President Brad Suster never faltered and to all the Neighbors of St. Boniface including Claudia Sainsot, Jon Kulpit, Kathy Thalmann, Jim Boccarossa, and architect, Mike Vasilko, and to Elaine Coorens, editor of “Our Urban Times” and Alisa Hauser of “DNAinfo Chicago/Block Club Chicago” who have been dedicated to covering this story for years.
St. Boniface Church Is Resurrected as a New Condo Development, AJ LaTrace, Chicago Magazine, 3/20/18
Condo conversion for Noble Square’s St. Boniface Church moves forward, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago March 30, 2018
Graffiti-Marred St. Boniface Altar Cleaned Before Block Party, Alisa Hauser, DNAinfo Chicago, 10/17/16