WEST TOWN — Despite a three-year delay, a neighbor’s plans to preserve and redevelop the St. Boniface church building in West Town’s Noble Square are still in motion, the church’s owner said Monday.
Michael Skoulsky told neighbors during a virtual East Village Association meeting Monday his 2018 plan to convert the church into 17 condos remained unchanged — albeit “very, very” delayed.
Skoulsky said the process involved “uneasy circumstances,” but he did not elaborate on specific factors contributing to the delay.
“The project is on track and at full speed right now,” he said. “We’re gonna probably start pre-sales in the next couple months.”
Skoulsky bought the church for $2.2 million in September 2016 after working with the city to save the structure from demolition. Another developer planned to tear it down and build single-family homes.
During the summer of 2018, city leaders approved a redevelopment agreement for Skoulsky to preserve the church at 1438 W. Chestnut by carving 17 condos inside, plus building a new four-story, 24-unit condo development on vacant land next to the church.
Additionally, a new two-story building at 921 N. Noble St. was planned to 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.
But no visible progress has been made with the project since then and it’s not clear why.
A previous iteration of the plan called for including a music school run by the Hyde Park-based Chicago Academy of Music.
The church building, with its four-tower, Romanesque Revival design, was designed by noted 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 Archdiocese of Chicago shuttered St. Boniface in 1990 and used it as a storage facility for old pews and windows. The church threatened it with demolition in 1999 and 2016.
Preservation Chicago Executive Director Ward Miller said in 2018 his group was founded on the steps of St. Boniface in 1999. Miller’s group deemed Skoulsky’s redevelopment plan a “win” for the historic preservation in Chicago.
“We’ve pushed very hard for a long time to see a good preservation outcome that really benefits the community,” Miller said. “We should go beyond a regular effort to make sure these churches are preserved for the future.”
He said Monday it was still too early to present a timeline for construction, however, he hoped to break ground by the end of summer.
“It’s definitely exciting to see it come together, finally,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ve cleaned up the property quite a bit. … We’re actively kind of keeping it in good shape and condition for the neighborhood.”
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