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Apartments with Cathedral Ceilings Coming to Old Church on Damen Avenue

By Alisa Hauser | May 17, 2013 12:41pm | Updated on May 17, 2013 12:48pm
 Jab Partners, a real estate company in North Center, has purchased a Wicker Park church and adjacent home and plans to renovate the church into 11 two-bedroom 1,500 square-foot apartment rentals and rent out the single family home, according to zoning attorney John Pikarski.
Missionary Church in Wicker Park to Become Apartments
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WICKER PARK — Glory, glory, holy rentals.

A prominent Gothic revival-style church that's been at the northwest corner of Evergreen and Damen avenues in Wicker Park for more than a century will be resurrected in the form of 11 rental units, according to the building's new owners.

The owners of JAB, a North Center-based real estate company that owns and manages apartment buildings in several North Side neighborhoods, purchased the former Chicago Missionary Society church at 1338 N. Damen Ave. and a house that sits on the rear lot at 2016 W. Evergreen for $1.3 million on April 18.

Jim Jann, principal of JAB, told DNAinfo Chicago that he and partner Frank Campise plan to convert the former church and single family home into rental units, as well as keep the exterior of the church intact and make it "more visually appealing" by replacing doors purchased by the prior owners from Home Depot, for instance.

"It's a beautiful structure in an excellent location. We have the opportunity to reuse it and preserve it for the future," said Jann.

(Click here to see photos of the interior of the building.)

Jann added, "We will do everything we can to incorporate the design elements of the church into the units. The windows are boarded up and doors need to be restored. After we pull off the boards, we'll see what kind of condition the windows are in."

According to Jann, the building will have two floors with 11 two-bedroom condos at approximately 1,500 square feet each. 

The second floor units will be loft-style, with cathedral ceilings, Jann said.

Though the property is currently zoned R-4 for residential use and can permit 10 units, a public notice dated May 8 seeks a zoning variance to reduce the size of the lot in order to build 11 units, according to Jann's attorney, John Pikarski.

Pikarski said the zoning variance request is scheduled to go before the city's Zoning Board of Appeals June 21.

According to Pikarski, the corner lot is in Wicker Park's Historic Landmark District, although the church building itself is not considered to be a Chicago landmark.

The building was home to the Chicago Missionary Society in 2003, according to the book, "Wicker Park: From 1673 thru 1929 and Walking Tour Guide," by Elaine Coorens.

Pikarski said he believes the building has been vacant for four or five years, although a neighbor said they believe some homeless people have taken up residence in there.

In addition to the rentals, which Pikarski described as "high end," the 2,232 square-feet single family home at 2016 W. Evergreen Ave. will be remodeled and rented out as well.

Jann said he's not sure yet how much he will charge for rent.

If all goes smoothly with obtaining permits and construction schedules, Jann said, he hopes the apartments will be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2014.