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St. Boniface Demolition 'Likely' If Church Not Sold By Friday, City Says

By Alisa Hauser | September 19, 2016 2:45pm
 St. Boniface Church, 1358 W. Chestnut St.
St. Boniface Church in Noble Square
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NOBLE SQUARE —  A developer who wants to save St. Boniface Church has a deadline of Friday to buy the century-old structure, otherwise another developer will demolish the building and construct single-family homes, the city says.

"We are all scrambling to get this done. It's been quite the struggle," builder Michael Skoulsky from Wicker Park-based Stas Development said on Monday.

In a recent letter to neighbors of the church from the the city's Department of Planning and Development, residents were informed of Skoulsky's Friday deadline to buy the church at 1358 W. Chestnut St. in Noble Square. 

"Stas Development is entering into a purchase agreement with Phil Moeller (owner of St. Boniface) for the Church property. The purchase agreement gives Stas Development and its investment partner, Marc Realty, until September 23 to complete due diligence (which will include hiring an engineer to review the structural integrity of the church and determining the economic feasibility of its adaptive reuse) and close on the property," the city wrote to neighbors. 

If Skoulsky is unable to buy the church, the church "will likely be demolished" after the other developer, Guardian Capital, buys up its debt, the letter explained.

Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, said that the update was sent to residents in late August after a building court date was continued to Sept. 28 to give the parties involved more time to negotiate the sale.

The Guardian Capital proposal calls for the demolition of the church and the construction of single-family homes, while Skoulsky has been seeking to transform the church into condos anchored by a campus for the Chicago Academy of Music.

If everything goes as planned, Skoulsky will buy the church for $2.2 million and build 15 condos inside the church and 19 to 22 condos in a new four-story structure on Chestnut Street.

"It's important to me and important to members of the community and I'm not giving up. They [Guardian Capital] are pushing to demolish the church," Skoulsky said, adding that the city has been "incredibly supportive and really helpful."

In July, those fighting to save the church were assured that there would be no demolition, despite a demolition permit having been issued.

A temporary hold on demolition was requested by the city as negotiations are ongoing, Strazzabosco previously said.

Designed by architect Henry Schlacks, the 32,000-square-foot Romanesque-style church was completed in 1902. It closed in 1990.

Earlier this year, city officials told Moeller that he must either repair the dilapidated church or demolish it.

Skoulsky said "people are shocked that demolition is a possibility." 

"With real estate, it's not often you can save something with such importance and significance to the community. It's easier to tear it down and build a single-family home but it's not as rewarding," he said.

Several calls and emails to Duggan were not returned. 

Elsewhere in the area, Guardian Capital is building 50 townhomes in Logan Square and eight single-family homes in the 2000 block of West Race Street in West Town.

St. Boniface Church at 1458 W. Chestnut St. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

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