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Carving Church Into 28 Apartments 'Too Big Of An Ask,' Wicker Group Says

By Alisa Hauser | July 18, 2017 10:12am | Updated on July 19, 2017 9:57am
 Church at 2215 W. North Ave.
2215 W. North Ave.
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WICKER PARK — The potential buyers of the iconic St. Paul's Church in Wicker Park want to carve 28 apartments out of the 1890s limestone and brick Romanesque church, but members of an influential Wicker Park neighborhood group told them Tuesday that it seems like too many units for the spot.

Michael Schwartz and Scott Schiller, principals of SNS Realty Group, along with architect Jay Keller, met with members of the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development subcommittee on Tuesday in the park's field house, 1425 N. Damen Ave. 

The project would need the community's blessing for a rezoning that would allow for the 28 apartments. Schwartz and Scihiller are under contract to buy the church, contingent on receiving a zoning change.

Under the property's existing zoning, the most number of units they'd be able to build would be eight. 

"We are excited about developing this church in a way that it will be an asset to the community," Schiller said, adding "We are not asking to increase the building's envelope" or the amount of space that the massive church already takes up.

Paul Dickman, a member of the seven member subcommittee told Schiller and Schwartz that ''28 units is a lot of units" and "too big of an ask." Dickman and others were concerned about the fact there would be apartments in the basement, and no parking spaces for tenants because the church is located a few blocks from the CTA Blue Line Damen stop and along a bus line.

Located at 2215 W. North Ave., the church — featuring a steeple visible for several blocks, as well as arched stained glass windows and ornate Victorian moldings — has an asking price of $2.19 million, according to a March real estate listing. 

The church, part of Wicker Park's Landmark District, is listed on the Chicago Historic Resources Survey and was designed by G. Isaacson.The front of the church. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

"This is early in the process," Ed Tamminga, chairman of the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development subcommittee, told DNAinfo before the meeting.

No renderings were shared, but Keller said the apartments would be one and two bedrooms, ranging in size from 600 to 1,000-square-foot.

After the conclusion of the spirited talk, Schwartz said he and Schiller would be willing to increase the size of the apartments and possibly reduce the proposed number from 28 to 20 and come back to the group next month with a more formal presentation.

The church has been vacant for a few years. Prior to 2011, the church was home to the Near NorthWest Arts Council (NNWAC), which operated the Wicker Park Cultural Center in partnership with 12 other arts and community organization using the space, Our Urban Times previously reported.

The facade of the church at 2215 W. North Ave. [Photos by DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

The entry.

The sanctuary. [Courtesy of Redco Realty]

Church pews. [Courtesy of Redco Realty]

Red doors and steps to take a break on.