LINCOLN SQUARE — A developer reworked plans to build homes in and around the rectory at St. Matthias Catholic Church in Lincoln Square, but neighbors still said they’re worried about traffic and parking during and after construction.
Developer CKG Realty Group, LLC’s new plan would renovate the existing rectory at 2300 W. Ainslie St., into a 12-unit apartment building. It would also build five new townhomes on the Oakley side of the property.
A previous version of the plan called for two separate apartment buildings on the site, one with eight units and one with seven, but Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) rejected it amid neighbor complaints about its size and other issues.
The latest plan replaces one apartment building with a row of thee-story townhomes. Four would have four bedrooms and one would have three. Each townhome would have its own parking space, according to plans shared with Vasquez’s office.
Three of the units in the overall project would be affordable, according to the plans.
CKG is comprised of veteran Chicago developer Scott and his adult child Gray Schiller. The development is the first time the pair are working on a development together.
St. Matthias is one of the parishes that was closed and merged with Queen of Angels, 2330 W. Sunnyside Ave., in Ravenswood last year.
The move was part of the archdiocese’s Renew My Church program, which aims to close and consolidate Catholic churches and schools to save money and create “more vital parishes.”
St. Matthias’ church building at 2310 W. Ainslie St. was not part of CKG’s proposal, and the archdiocese previously said it does not plan to close the adjacent school.
“The [rectory] building is vacant. It’s been vacant for some time and it’s pretty much functionally obsolete, in the sense that its layout and configuration is not something that would work for most of today’s uses,” Scott Schiller said. “But it’s a beautiful building. And it’s a building that we have a strong desire to save and rehabilitate it so it will exist as an asset to the community.”
The rectory apartments would be rentals. The developer is still evaluating whether to sell or rent the townhomes based on the economics of the market when construction is complete, Scott Schiller said.
CKG will need Vasquez to approve a zoning change to complete the project.
Neighbors reviewed and asked questions about CKG’s latest proposal during a Feb. 2 community meeting Vasquez’s office hosted.
Neighbor Pat Milhizer raised concerns about the safety of students waking to and from St. Matthias Elementary School, 4910 N. Claremont Ave., during construction.
Other nearby construction projects have previously caused issues with noise and traffic congestion in the neighborhood’s residential streets, Milhizer said.
“I’d be happy to meet with you on site when we’re ready to start construction and kind of look at the scene. It sounds like … you have a boots on the ground understanding in the community where the problems have been,” Scott Schiller said. “I’d be happy to meet you out there … and try and come up with a construction plan that works for the community.”
Neighbors can submit feedback on the current design via the 40th Ward’s website. Vasquez is expected to make a decision on the plan before the end of the month.
This is the second time CKG has pitched the redevelopment of the rectory property. Vasquez rejected a previous proposal to build a nine-unit apartment building and an eight-unit building on the lot in November.
In his rejection of that plan, Vasquez cited neighbor concerns over the plan only having three affordable housing units, a lack of parking and green space, design of the buildings and the type of zoning requested by the developer being typically used for large retail and residential projects.
The new plan’s footprint is smaller than the previous plan, Schiller said.
“There was a strong community sentiment … nonetheless, that the property doesn’t receive a business zoning. So we are doing away with the [business] zoning request,” Scott Schiller said.
In addition to preserving more of the property’s green space, the new plan also has the townhomes built using brick in a “prairie-style architecture” to help them be consistent with the current rectory and other buildings in the area, Schiller said.
“I think the prior vision for the eight-unit building, it crowded the property much more significantly than the townhomes are doing,” Scott Schiller said. “… The rectory building is much more of a standalone building now. And the common elements of the yard are are much more preserved in terms of that community asset.”
If the zoning change isn’t approved, an alternative scenario would include demolishing the rectory to build five new single family homes, Scott Schiller said.
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