LINCOLN PARK — A proposal to add a seven-story apartment building to a by a 120-year-old church — while retaining its worship space — cleared Chicago’s City Council on Wednesday.
The plans include renovating Second Church of Christ Scientist at 2700 N. Pine Grove Ave. by knocking down the rear of the building and adding a new, seven-story tower with 26 apartments and 30 parking spaces, according to a presentation by the church’s attorney during a previous zoning committee meeting.
The renovations would downsize the church’s building while maintaining the original front, east and west sides of the building, the attorney said.
But the cathedral and the large dome on the ceiling at the rear of the building would have to be taken down to make room for the apartments, according to plans. What’s now the building’s front foyer will be used as the new worship space.
The zoning committee approved the plans earlier this month over the objection of neighbors who lamented losing the dome and sanctuary, saying they were the church’s main features with “architectural significance.”
Merrill Goozner, who owns a property in a building across the street to the east, also said the proposed seven-story apartment building was too big, and the community needed more time to evaluate the development’s effect on the area.
Goozner also said Pine Grove Avenue is a “narrow, residential street” that’s already “frequently blocked by commercial vehicles” and cannot handle the traffic such a large residential building would bring.
“In brief, the proposed development will reduce our property values by eliminating our western views and more than half of our daytime sunlight,” Goozner said. “Due to limited setbacks, it will also create a canyon-like atmosphere at street-level.”
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), whose ward encompasses the church’s site, supported the project, saying the proposal came after a “several-year community process” to finally reach a “good compromise” with its developers.
She also said the church’s congregation has “dwindled” over the years, and it needed to downsize to keep operating. This was the best proposal that supports its smaller scale while still maintaining the church’s architectural features, Smith said.
Groundbreaking for the project could begin in the spring.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.