HUMBOLDT PARK — A late 1800s-era Humboldt Park church that lost its steeple in a fire earlier this year could soon see new life.
Chicago-based developer Robert Linn, principal of Point B Properties, is looking to convert the church at 3300 W. Pierce Ave. into condos, a project that was being considered even before the fire.
Linn wants to restore the existing church and carve out 13 condos inside. The developer is pitching the project as 75 percent market-rate units (10) and 25 percent affordable housing units (3) — all of them approachable in price, he said.
“I use the [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] definitions so the affordable and the market-rate aren’t going to be all that difference in price actually,” Linn said.
Linn envisions market-rate condos going for about $250,000, though that could change depending on the market. Most of the units — both market-rate and affordable — will offer two bedrooms, he said.
The church is currently occupied by the congregation Salvation and Deliverance Ministries International, which has called the church home since 1986. The congregation moved there just three years after its founding in Austin, citing a need for more space.
Linn said church leaders approached him about a year ago to see if he was interested in buying the historic building. The leaders were motivated to sell for financial reasons, according to Linn.
Linn said he’s under contract to buy the building, but the deal hasn’t gone through yet. The deal is contingent on zoning change approval from Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) and neighbors. Current zoning only allows for two residential units.
The church’s pastor didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Linn will learn his fate when he pitches the Humboldt Park alderman and neighbors at an upcoming community meeting. Maldonado’s chief of staff, Kathleen Oskandy, said the meeting details have not been determined yet.
Over the last several months, Linn and church leaders deliberated over the project — apartments were nixed and affordable housing was identified as a must — and worked together to make sure the building was up to city code. Linn said he paid to get masonry issues fixed “to get the city off [the congregation’s] back.”
“Us sharing the vision allowed it to work,” Linn said.
“I really like the neighborhood. I love the architecture of these old Chicago churches. The congregation at this church in particular is what made the deal work. They were willing to be flexible and allow this to happen.”
The church made headlines in early 2018 when an extra-alarm blaze engulfed its steeple. The steeple was so badly damaged that it had be taken down. Nothing else was damaged in the fire, the congregation wrote on Facebook at the time, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Linn said he had already been negotiating with church leaders for some time before the fire happened, according to the developer. The fire happened “randomly,” Linn said, adding that it had no impact on the sale.
“One time I was there and they had a steeple, and the next time I came they didn’t,” the developer said.
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