WIN: Vacant since 1990, St. Boniface Church Adaptive Reuse Finally Moving Forward
The Long-Delayed Development is Beginning Soon
April 30, 2021
“A well-established developer is taking over the stalled residential conversion of a monumental church in Noble Square that has been out of service for three decades.
“Zev Salomon, principal of ZSD Development, said he has [partially] bought out Michael Skoulsky, whose Stas Development launched the rehab of St. Boniface Church in 2016. At the time, Stas’s plan was hailed as a breakthrough for a structure that had been deteriorating since 1990, when the Archdiocese of Chicago shut down the parish at Chestnut and Noble Streets. Nevertheless, the plan stalled.
“Moving forward with the long-delayed project, Salomon said, ‘has a lot of moving parts. The church has been sitting there for 30 years, the roof is leaking, it’s a mess.’
“Salomon, whose firm has completed high-end condo projects in the West Loop and Lakeview and last week broke ground on an affordable housing development in East Garfield Park, said ZSD paid off Stas’s ‘$5 million-plus’ mortgage on the property.
“Even in disrepair, the church ‘is a handsome gateway to the community that stands there overlooking Eckhart Park,’ said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. Miller’s group grew out of a community effort in the late 1990s to stop demolition of St. Boniface, which the Archdiocese had been using for storage since shuttering it. In the years since, successive efforts to reactivate the building with senior housing and other uses have failed.
“Miller said he was glad to see the rehab move ahead after a few years in limbo. It’s a model for other disused Catholic church buildings at a time when 80 Chicago parish churches ‘are closing, on probation or being combined with other parishes,’ Miller said. ‘That’s more than any other city.’
‘The city has been working to preserve the former church for more than a decade because of its unique design, its prominent location and the desire by Noble Square residents to save the building as a neighborhood focal point,’ Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of planning and development for the city of Chicago, said in an email. ‘It’s exciting to have a development entity in place that can finally move forward with an adaptive reuse plan that achieves several community goals.’
“The interiors are still being laid out, he said, but will incorporate historical features. The big rose windows, he said, will not be divided up but will remain as designed, each hanging in one condo. Top-floor units may have 20-foot ceilings, following the historical ceiling line designed by Henry Schlacks, architect of many historical Chicago churches.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 4/5/21)