WICKER PARK — A turn-of-the-century church with an adjacent parking lot has gone up for sale along a stretch of Damen Avenue in Wicker Park just south of the park.
Though Alicea said he has been flooded with calls from developers interested in buying the church, the discussions stop when they learn that the church is in the Wicker Park Historic Landmark District and cannot be demolished.
"The property is gold. If it could have been knocked down it would have been sold by now. The structure of it cannot be changed. It could be good for artists' studios. It's a nice open spot," he said.
Since the lot next to the church is currently zoned for residential use, according to the City of Chicago zoning map, a single-family home, a two-flat building, or "a low density apartment building" could be built next to the church.
Since the church and the adjacent lot are technically separate properties, Alicea said the owners are willing to sell the building and the lot separately.
The building is in an area of Wicker Park that has seen a recent spurt of development.
Across the street from the church, a North Center developer is in the midst of bringing 11 loft-style apartment rentals to a prominent Gothic-revival style church at 1338 N. Damen Ave.
Earlier this month Craft Pizza opened at 1252 N. Damen.
The Rev. Miguel Gonzalez, pastor of the church as well as owner of the building, said it has been a Hispanic church since 1952 and, before that, it served Polish worshippers.
"At one point this area of Wicker Park was a very Hispanic community. It has changed a lot over the years," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he is looking for a new location for his church in the Brickyard area on the city's Northwest Side, where most of his parishioners live.
The building is rated purple in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, a database which is a basic starting point for assessing a building’s historic or architectural value.
Peter Strazzabosco, a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Economic Development, said the purple color code is a relatively little-used color code that was used for buildings that were so drastically altered that the survey team — who compiled the database in the 1980s and 1990s — didn’t know what the building originally looked like.
The church's wood frame, evident in a 2008 photo on the Cook County Assessor Office's website, is currently covered with cedar wood siding painted beige.
Alicea said that if the building were not used as a church, "It could probably be used as anything that the city would allow within the zoning, such as a studio, a residential home or an office."
For more information on the property, email Alicea at email@example.com or call 773-276-6222.
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