UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A community group and an alderman aren't convinced just yet on a developer's plan to convert a recently landmarked Ukrainian Village church into a 19-unit residential condo development.
Members of the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association and Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) say they need more information such as financing details and a marketing plan before a zoning change and "curb cut" or driveway access is considered.
At the southeast corner of Walton Street and Hoyne Avenue in Ukrainian Village since 1905, St. John's Lutheran Church was designed by architects Henry Worthmann & John Steinbach, who were "arguably one of the city's most accomplished church designers," according to a Landmark Commission report.
Most recently used by members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the 7-lot, 17,532 square-foot parcel had been on the market since 2005 and was declared a city landmark in March, just weeks after being purchased by Alex Troyanovsky, a prolific real estate developer.
Troyanovsky's Mokin Development LLC, which is a division of Regency Development Group, purchased the buildings at 913-25 N. Hoyne St. for around $1.1 million in February, according to Igor Michin of MBI Builders, the project's general contractor.
At a neighborhood meeting last week on the project Troyanovsky was not present. However, Michin and Tomasz Litwicki from Midwest Real Property Investments, LLC, another investor involved in the project, fielded questions and concerns from about 20 local residents.
"We're here, we own the property, we want to do something with it," Litwicki said.
Architect Orest Baranyk from Baranyk & Associates said that 95 percent of the work planned is interior and would involve gutting both the church and school buildings. Exterior improvements would include planting trees and shrubs to "make it look more like a residential development," he said.
Baranyk said the walls of the church are severely damaged by water and the rehab will cost "$2 to $3 million at least."
The proposed plan would create 19 luxury condos on the church and school site ranging from 1,200 to 1,500 square-feet and range in price from the high $300s to the mid $400s range, with $425,000 being the average listing price, Litwicki said.
While previously Baranyk said the majority of the condos would be two bedroom, the floor plans shared at the meeting showed a variety of two-bedroom, one-bedroom, and three-bedroom units.
Ten condos will be in the church at 925 N. Hoyne Ave. and nine in the adjacent school building at 913 N. Hoyne Ave., according to the site plan, which includes an underground parking garage with spaces for 19 cars.
Because the church is a landmark, the facade and stained glass must remain intact, though Baranyk said the city's Landmark Commission gave permission to replace the stained glass with clear glass on the south side of the building facing Walton Street "so light gets in."
The requested RM-5 zoning upgrade would enable the church to have a third-level inside of its interior instead of two, as well as an additional two units on the lot. Under the current RM-4 zoning, the developers can build 17 units.
If permission is not granted to construct a "curb cut" for a driveway, into the property off of Hoyne, a one-way north bound street, Baranyk said "about 150 square feet" from the back of the school building at 913 N. Hoyne Ave. would need to be removed to allow access from the alley into an underground parking garage.
The bulk of the concern from residents centered around the curb cut and how it could "set a precedent for other developers," said Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association president Paul Matwyshyn.
After the meeting, held in the basement of St. Helen School, 2347 W. Augusta Blvd., Ward Miller from Preservation Chicago said that he "would have liked to have seen more of the interior development preserved."
"I would think if you are the kind of person that would want to live in a landmark church you would want to see some of those features incorporated such as the columns," Miller said.
Matwyshyn, who said the presentation was "a little too vague," added a form on the community group's home page to solicit questions about the project, which he will share with Fioretti.
Doug Faller, 48, a Ukrainian Village resident, seemed satisfied with what he heard from the developers.
"Overall, I thought the design looked good and I didn't have any issue with the curb cut request. It's a good thing to have a building that's been empty a long time being used again," Faller said.
Phyllis Zaparaniuk, a 25-year resident of Ukrainian Village, said before the meeting that "with so many kids running into the street a curb cut could be dangerous."
Additionally, Zaparaniuk said that street parking is already hard to find on Hoyne and the proposed driveway would remove at least one street parking space.