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Ald. Moreno Wants Old Church Saved, Not Demolished For Condos

By Paul Biasco | February 10, 2016 5:45am
 A deal between an unnamed developer at the Saint John United Church of Christ would make way for the demolition of the church, according to its pastor.
Saint John United Church of Christ
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LOGAN SQUARE — Although a developer and the pastor of a 105-year-old church say they still plan on striking a deal that involves demolishing the building, Ald. Proco Joe Moreno said he is working to prevent that.

Preservation groups scolded Moreno and the developer after word came out that a deal was close to being signed last week, which would include approval of rezoning so that condominiums could be built on the lot.

On Tuesday, Moreno (1st) said that there is no deal in place for the sale of Saint John United Church of Christ, 2442 W. Moffat St., contrary to what the pastor said last week.

‘I would prefer that it be saved, even though it's not historically landmarked," Moreno said this week. "There also has to be an economic plan for that.”

Last week Charlotte Nold, the church's 73-year-old pastor, told DNAinfo the church and the developer were in the final stages of making a deal, and that it would happen as early as this week.

She also said Moreno was "on board," which he denies.

The proposal that was reportedly close to a deal last week included knocking down the church, which is in need of significant repairs, and constructing three condominium buildings in its place.

The development group behind the project, Synergy Partners, has insisted the church can't be saved due to damages including a crack running down the brick exterior.

Michael Pinelli, a principal with Synergy, said his group is now planning to make some changes to the development proposal, but as of this week the plan is to demolish the church.

"The building is in really bad disrepair structurally," Pinelli said. "We looked at the opportunity to reuse it. Nobody can figure out a way to make it work. The way it sits on the block, the structural deficiency ... We’ve done other [church re-purposing projects] and we’d love to do it, but it’s not possible.”

The proposal the developers plan to bring to the table would still require a rezoning, thus allowing for a larger building, and more housing units, to be built on the land.

Pinelli said the group has not brought the new proposal to Moreno's office yet.

While the development team is working on updating its plan, Moreno said he is working to find another buyer for the church who could save the building.

The alderman said he is meeting with a pastor who is interested next week.

The entire property, including the parsonage, was listed for $1.57 million last year.

The pastor of the church said the main reason for listing the property was due to the damages to the exterior, which forced the church to pay for scaffolding along the sidewalk cotsing about $1,000 a month.

Nold estimated it would cost $200,000 to repair the church.

The heads of both Logan Square Preservation and Preservation Chicago have spoken out against demolishing the building, instead arguing for a developer to convert the building to residences or for another church to move in.

The groups argued that if the alderman approved a zoning change, it would incentivize a developer to demolish the church.

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