LOGAN SQUARE — One of the oldest churches in Logan Square is poised to become an apartment or condo building if a developer gets city approval.
JAB Real Estate is seeking a zoning change to build nine residential units inside the Episcopal Church of the Advent, 2900 W. Logan Blvd., which is one more unit than the current zoning designation allows.
It's unclear if the project calls for apartments or condos and how much the units will cost. Rebecca Wilson, communications consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, deferred specific questions to the developer, who didn't respond to requests for comment Monday.
Despite how few details were provided, the project rattled Todd Van Alstyne, the former warden of the church.
"I don't think any of the church members would have been willing to leave the building if they had known it would've been turned into luxury condos," Van Alystyne said.
"You can keep the neighborhood architecture while at the same time pushing the actual neighbors out. That's why we're concerned. If there's nine luxury [units], that's going to raise everybody's taxes and push out longstanding neighbors."
According to Wilson, JAB has yet to buy the building, which hit the market for $1.75 million in October.
She said the church has been under contract since late January, and the developer is currently in the "due diligence phase" of the process, which includes obtaining city approval.
A portion of the profit made from the sale will go toward furthering ministry in Logan Square, Wilson said. The agreement was made by the bishop and elected trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. Terms of the deal are still being finalized.
The church closed about a year ago mainly due to money issues and a shrinking congregation.
The departure of Nuestra Señora de las Américas, which had been sharing the church building and covering half of the bills, as well issues with neighbors, sealed the church's fate.
The church was founded in 1901 at Temple Hall, 430 W. Fullerton Ave. It wasn't until 1906 that church leaders bought the Logan Boulevard lot, and the choirmaster at the time, architect Elmer C. Jensen, designed the building that stands today.
Jensen worked for the architectural firm Jensen and Halsted, which was founded by William Le Baron Jenney, who is known for designing and engineering the first skyscraper in 1884.
Under the developer's proposal, the historic church building would be preserved and reused. The building is considered architecturally significant enough that the city takes 90 days to decide whether it will allow demolition.
In response to the developer's proposal, Logan Square Preservation issued a statement Monday:
"We were very disappointed that the Church of the Advent closed a year ago. To lose a congregation like that was unfortunate. We're still evaluating the proposal and its potential impact on the landmark district and immediate neighbors. But our first concern, as stewards of the landmark district, is to make sure the building is preserved."
In an email, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), whose ward includes the site, said he supports the project.
"I support the general concept but we're going to set up a meeting with neighbors so they can speak directly to the developer about concerns and work on the project with the developer," Waguespack wrote.
The proposal will go before the city's Zoning Board of Appeals this summer.
Converting empty churches into homes and arts venues is becoming increasingly popular in Logan Square. Last year, the former Evangelical church at Kimball and Wrightwood avenues was converted into an elite circus school and an 1880s-era church at 2445 W. Washtenaw Ave. was converted into a home.
The trend has taken hold throughout the city. Last week, DNAinfo Chicago mapped out converted churches in neighborhoods across Chicago.