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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Nonprofit Presses Pause On Bold Plan To Redevelop Old St. Vitus Church Into Affordable Housing In Pilsen

Citing community concerns and historic hurdles, the Resurrection Project is going back to the drawing board.

The Resurrection Project pitched plans to convert St. Vitus into a 42-unit affordable housing apartment building last month.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago

PILSEN — A Pilsen nonprofit is pumping the brakes on their proposed plan to redevelop the old St. Vitus Catholic Church into a 42-unit affordable housing complex in the neighborhood.  

The Resurrection Project officials said the organization would not yet be moving forward with their $23 million plan to redevelop the 1814 S. Paulina Ave. site, citing community concerns and hurdles with the state’s Preservation Office.

RELATED: $23 Million St. Vitus Affordable Housing Plan Unveiled In Pilsen

Veronica Gonzalez, vice president of real estate at the Resurrection Project, said after meeting with residents and hearing concerns about other potential uses for the site, the organization will now re-evaluate how to proceed with redeveloping the property.

“We cannot move forward with just affordable housing,” Gonzalez said. “Part of my due diligence is to pause and listen to the neighborhood.”

From 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Gonzalez and the Resurrection Project will present an update on the proposal at a community meeting at La Casa Resource Center, 1815 S. Paulina St. 

The nonprofit aims to gather more feedback from residents on what they would like to see the church campus become in the future, Gonzalez said.

“Regardless of whatever we are trying to propose, we are not going to get the community to back it …until their input is being taken into account,” she said.

Last month, the Resurrection Project presented plans for a 42-unit affordable housing complex that would include a small commercial space just steps from the 18th Street Pink Line stop.

The proposal looked to create a 54,200-square-foot apartment building that would offer a mix of one-, two-, three-bedroom units between two buildings that would scale five and seven stories, Gonzalez previously told Block Club Chicago.

Credit: The Resurrection Project
A rendering shows what the St. Vitus redevelopment could look like.

The Resurrection Project was expected to submit an application for state funding in February, but has decided forgo that application for now. The Resurrection Project is seeking funding from multiple state and federal sources, Gonzalez said.

Because the organization is applying for low-income housing tax credits with the Illinois Housing Development Authority, state approval would trigger a review from the state’s Historic Preservation Office, which would likely reject the proposal since St. Vitus sits in the Pilsen Historic District, Gonzalez said. The district was designated as a historic area by the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, and the state’s Housing Preservation office is a designated protector of assets on the National Historic Register.

The Pilsen Historic District is roughly bound by 16 Street on the north, Cermak Road on the south, Halsted Street on the east and Western Avenue on the west.

The state’s Historic Preservation Office advised the nonprofit that the modifications they proposed would not be approved.

“The building of a new building behind a historic facade, that’s not something they are willing to consider right now that would meet their criteria for historic preservation, “Gonzalez said. 

RELATED: Shuttered Pilsen Church Could Transform Into Affordable Apartments Under Bold New Plan

Although the current proposal is off the table, the  Resurrection Project aims to have a sit down with the State’s Historic Preservation office soon to craft a new plan for the site, Gonzalez said.

St. Vitus closed in 1990 and it was deeded to The Resurrection Project the following year, according to the nonprofit. A portion of the building previously housed some Resurrection Project staff until this summer when a pipe broke, forcing the organization to relocate staff.

Another part of the property houses the Centro Familiar Guadalupano, a daycare center that provides services to residents of Pilsen. 

Community residents raised concerns about how the redevelopment would affect the daycare center — run by Chicago Commons — at the St. Vitus campus.

But Gonzalez said Resurrection Project officials met with Chicago Commons parents and have committed to ensuring that no development plans would move forward until the daycare center was in a “position to expand completely or we found them another site and location.”

Moving forward, Gonzalez said the Resurrection Project plans to meet with residents every six to eight weeks to present updates on plans for the St. Vitus site.

“The most important thing for us was making sure that we were responding to the community,” Gonzalez said.

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