LOGAN SQUARE — A developer has begun tearing down a 106-year-old Logan Square church with plans to build condominiums on the site.
Synergy Construction Group received a permit to knock down Saint John United Church of Christ in late July despite concern from local preservation groups.
The church, which had a dwindling congregation, had been placed on the market for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest was that the structure had been damaged and required significant funds to fix.
The developer is now seeking a zoning change for the former church, 2442 W. Moffat St., to build two three-story condominium buildings in its place.
If the group does not get the zoning change, it will build single family homes instead, said Mike Pinelli, principal at Synergy Construction Group.
Preservation groups had asked for any developer interested in the church while it was on the market to consider repairing the structure and building residences inside it.
That proved to be too expensive an option, Pinelli said.
"We thoroughly analyzed the structure and just found it economically unfeasible to restore," he said.
The process involved hiring an architect who had worked on church conversions in the past to analyze this particular church, Pinelli said.
Instead, the developer is deconstructing the church one brick at a time and hopes to reuse the original bricks to build the future condominium buildings if the zoning change is approved.
"It's obviously more green friendly," Pinelli said of the deconstruction effort versus a traditional tear-down.
The developer will not be able to salvage the wood inside the building.
The church already has taken out the windows and sold them, Pinelli said.
Charlotte Nold, the pastor of the church, said those repairs would have cost the church about $200,000 to fix and the church didn't have that kind of money.
The next step is to present the condominium plans to the West Bucktown Neighborhood Association, which will in turn give a recommendation to Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) on the zoning change.
The developer is seeking to build two condo buildings — one six units, the other three — Pinelli said.
The demolition of the church will be completed in September and, if all goes according to plan, the condominium buildings will be ready during summer 2017, Pinelli said.
The church is now moving into a parsonage next to the current church building and plans to use money from the sale to renovate the building and continue hosting services and operating the church's food pantry.
When asked about her feelings about the church's sale after serving as its pastor for 27 years, Nold said she prefers not to dwell on the past and is more concerned with keeping the church alive.
"I just live in the present moment, so whatever is in front of me today that's what I deal with," Nold said. "I don't deal with what happened to me last week."
Nold, 72, said she plans on staying with the church at least as long as it takes to get the new smaller building renovated and until she can replace herself.
The church will renovate the second floor of the parsonage, where Nold will live, and convert the first floor into a mission church with a kitchen, meeting room and food pantry.
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