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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Beloved St. Adalbert Church In Pilsen No Longer Being Sold To Developer, Archdiocese Says

This is the second time a deal to buy the former Pilsen church campus has fallen through since 2016.

St. Adalbert Church closed in July 2019.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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PILSEN — A developer’s $4 million deal to buy the historic St. Adalbert Catholic Church property in Pilsen is no longer on the table, marking a second failed effort to sell the building.

City Pads entered into an agreement last year to buy the property at 1650 W. 17th St. But that deal has fallen through, Archdiocese of Chicago officials confirmed.

An archdiocese spokeswoman said the church is “not under contract with City Pads” but declined to answer additional questions about the future of the property.

City Pads spokesman Clint Sabin also confirmed the development company is no longer pursuing the property but declined to answer additional questions.

A real estate listing for the church remains online and has been updated to reflect the property is no longer under contract. The church is for sale for $3.95 million, according to the listing.

SVN Chicago, the listing agent, did not return requests for comment.

Last year, after Block Club reported the $4 million contract, City Pads said it would not put housing in the former sanctuary building. At the time, City Pads said it wanted to build a co-living apartment building on the site.

The company also had plans to rehab the convent and rectory to make way for more apartments.

RELATED: Beloved Pilsen Church Parishioners Fought To Save Being Sold To Developer For $4 Million

The property — consisting of the sanctuary, rectory, convent, school and a parking lot — spans 2.1 acres in the heart of the changing neighborhood. St. Adalbert was founded in 1874 by Polish immigrants and the current church building was built in 1912.

The archdiocese announced in February 2016 that St. Adalbert would close due to the more than $3 million needed to repair the church’s 185-foot towers, which have been surrounded by scaffolding for years.

The Archdiocese tried to sell the church building in November 2016, when it contracted with the Chicago Academy of Music. That deal also fell through.

In September 2018, the Archdiocese hired commercial real estate firm SVN Chicago to try to sell the property again. A real estate listing at the time infuriated some Pilsen residents because it touted the church’s iconic towers as “perfect for penthouse units.” The language was later removed.

Fight To Save The Church

The development is the latest in a years-long battle Mexican and Polish parishioners have waged to try to save St. Adalbert Church from being closed and sold. 

Parishioners have appealed the deconsecration of the church, and the issue is making its way through the Vatican’s judicial system.

The Society of St. Adalbert group has pitched plans for the site that would maintain the religious character of the church complex.

“We have a plan that’s supported by the community that doesn’t involve real estate development,” said group President Julie Sawicki.  

Following the deconsecration of the church in 2019, group leaders said they offered the archdiocese $2.03 million for the property — $1 million for the church and an additional $1.03 million for the rest of the site. But they never heard back about the offer, Sawicki previously told Block Club.

“Catholic law is very clear that a Catholic entity has first right to a Catholic church,” Sawicki said. “The church should have been turned over to any Catholic entity. The fact that it hasn’t been turned over is outrageous. Period.

“The [towers] could have been repaired at this point, but, instead, the scaffolding has remained for years and years and additional expenses have racked up.”

The group said they are continuing to fight but understand the property is still for sale. 

While it’s still listed, “we are fighting off developers and we just know that the property needs protection like exterior and interior landmarking in order to save it,” Sawicki said.

Since taking office last year, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) has gotten in on the battle, as well.

Sigcho-Lopez has tried to have the property rezoned as part of an ordinance introduced in July 2019. If approved, the zoning change would only allow for parks and open space, a tactic meant to tie the Archdiocese’s hands.

The alderman has sought to secure landmark status for the former church and rectory. Community members have also submitted proposals to landmark the convent.

Sigcho-Lopez said he has been clear with the Archdiocese there needed to be a clear, transparent, community-driven process that involved neighbors and former parishioners to determine the future of the site.

Sigcho-Lopez said he wants Cardinal Blase Cupich to come to the table and speak with neighbors to discuss proposals that address the needs of the community and serve a public good.

“Parishioners and the community need to be included on what’s the best fit for the community,” he said.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) announces plans to downzone St. Adalbert Church following the final services at the Pilsen church in July 2019.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Polish Parishioners hold signs outside St. Adalbert one week before the church is set to hold its final mass in July 2019.


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