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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

St. Boniface Church-To-Condo Conversion Finally Underway As City And Developer Craft $30 Million Plan

"It's been a real test of my endurance," said developer Michael Skoulsky. Two years ago, the historic church was saved from demolition.

Renderings of the preserved St. Boniface Church, which will be converted into 17 condos, and a 24-unit condo building planned for empty land next to the church.
Courtesy of Stas Development
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WEST TOWN — The St. Boniface church building in West Town’s Noble Square will be preserved and redeveloped into 17 condos through a $30 million redevelopment agreement proposed to the City Council Wednesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Planned for the northeast corner of Noble and Chestnut streets, the project will require council approval due to the building’s 2008 acquisition by the city and subsequent sale for a redevelopment project that never materialized, according to the mayor’s office.

The plan calls for preserving the church at 1438 W. Chestnut and carving 17 condos inside, plus building a new 4-story, 24-unit condo development adjacent to the church on land that’s currently vacant. 

Additionally, a new 2-story building at 921 N. Noble St., on neighboring land just north of the church, will offer four affordable residential units and administrative space to be used by the Northwestern University Settlement House, which provides social services and educational programming to Chicago families.

A previous iteration of the plan called for including a music school run by the Hyde Park-based Chicago Academy of Music. The church’s owner, developer Michael Skoulsky, said on Wednesday that he decided to work with the Northwestern University Settlement House instead of the music school.

Skoulsky said he hopes to break ground on the  project by the fall.

“It’s been a real test of my endurance. It is something that I’ve been very passionate about. You can never recreate that structure. There are 9-foot solid brick walls in the church. The foundation is remarkable,” Skoulsky said.

Skoulsky bought the church for $2.2 million in September 2016, after he was given a city-ordered deadline to buy the church, which was also targeted by another developer who planned to demolish it and construct single-family homes. 

The city’s departments of Planning & Development, Buildings and Law worked with Skoulsky to save the structure from demolition and create a new redevelopment plan.

The new redevelopment agreement with the city would require Skoulsky’s company, St. Boniface LLC, to complete the building’s adaptive re-use and offer some affordable units in the condo building, subject to the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance.

The church building, with its four-tower, Romanesque Revival design, was designed by noted church architect Henry Schlacks and dedicated in 1904, an event described by the Chicago American newspaper as “one of the most impressive religious spectacles in the history of Chicago.”

The church was shuttered by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1990.

Zoning for the $30 million redevelopment project was approved by the city council in May.

A rendering of one of the condos. [Courtesy of Anastasia Suprunenko].  
 A view of the church. [Provided] 
Inside the church. [Courtesy of Rodney Harvey]