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Condos to Replace 1880s Church Near Landmark Louis Sullivan Cathedral

By Alisa Hauser | February 20, 2014 6:41am | Updated on February 20, 2014 8:33am
 A church at 1137 N. Leavitt St. in Ukrainian Village.
1137 N. Leavitt St.
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Condos are coming to a Ukrainian Village corner that is steps away from the area's historic district and across from a Chicago Landmark church designed by famed architect Louis Henry Sullivan.

Developer DB Homes' plan to build nine luxury condos on three lots at 1137-43 N. Leavitt St. will be prefaced by the teardown of the New Hope Bible Church, a two-story house next to the church and a coach house, according to three city demolition permits.

Located on the northeast corner of Haddon and Leavitt streets, the three lots are already zoned for residential development, and, since the properties are not in the Ukrainian Village Landmark District, neighborhood group approval is not required.

But the bible church's proximity to Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral at 1121 N. Leavitt, on the southwest corner of Haddon and Leavitt, has not gone unnoticed by neighbors, nor has the fact the church dates back to 1894, according to reports.

"It would be really jarring to have a giant concrete condo built across the street from Louis Sullivan's important architectural gem. My neighbors and I are very concerned about this historic church being torn down without any public discussion and we are even more concerned with what will be constructed in its place," wrote resident Sarah Boone on a Ukrainian Village Facebook Page.

Boone lives in the 2100 block of West Haddon, which is part of the Ukrainian Village Historic district created in 2002. The district is roughly bounded by Haddon to the north, Damen to the east, Rice to the south and Western to the east.

Tony Scott, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, said he "would rather [the building next store] be a church," but added "it has fallen into disrepair."

Scott said he feared that the demolition of the New Hope Bible Church could damage the foundation of the Trinity Orthodox Church, built in the early 1900s.

Aleksandra Dubovik, a spokeswoman for DB Homes, said in a brief phone interview that her firm planned to finalize its purchase of the three lots "very soon." 

Once the deal is final, DB Homes plans to build nine two- and three-bedroom condos on the corner, with "delivery by the end of" 2014, Dubovik said.

She did not respond to follow-up emails about neighbors' concerns.

A building permit for the land on which the church sits includes plans to erect a three-story masonry building with three units, a basement and a roof penthouse, along with a new garage with a roof deck. The home at 1139 N. Leavitt will also be replaced by a building with three condos, as will a lot that contains a coach house at 1143 N. Leavitt.

In addition to not being in the neighborhood's Landmark district, the New Hope Bible Church is not listed in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey's database, which is considered a starting point for assessing a building’s historic or architectural value.

The home next to the church, however, is listed in the survey, though there is no information on the home, such as which architect designed it or what year it was built.

If the church were in the database and "orange rated," the city would put a 90-day hold on the demolition permit, said Pete Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Housing and Economic Development.

Since the home next to the church is rated "green," it will require a 10-day notice of the demolition sent to neighboring properties.

A permit to demolish the single-story rear coach house was granted on Jan. 22, while the permit to demolish the two-story church building was granted on Feb. 13, according to city records.

The permit to demolish the home next to the church was approved on Jan. 13 but currently has an "incomplete" status, pending a zoning review, according to city records.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said Wednesday evening that he "asked [Landmarks] to go back and give better info on its history and to discuss whether it can be preserved."

Andy Zivojinovic, the pastor of New Hope Bible Church, did not return several calls about the sale.

Craig Norris, a Wicker Park resident, said it was unfortunate that the New Hope Bible Church was not included in the Historic District and wondered if the developers could "incorporate the church into the project."

"It would lend character into the project," Norris said.

Citing several churches in Wicker Park that have avoided the wrecking ball due to the fact they're protected by the area's Historic Landmark District status, Norris said, "Wicker Park's precedent is that adaptive reuse is so much better [for old churches]."

Last year, East Village lost the Hispanic Baptist Church at 1042 N. Damen Ave. to demolition. The church was torn down to build a condo development called "The Damen Place."