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After Design Tweaks, Homes At Collapsed Church Site Get Wicker Group's OK

By Alisa Hauser | July 19, 2017 4:33pm
 An aerial view of the four duplexes and three condos proposed for 1907-1911 West Schiller St.
An aerial view of the four duplexes and three condos proposed for 1907-1911 West Schiller St.
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Photo of Rendering by JCS Architects

WICKER PARK — After months of talks and several design tweaks, a plan to bring condos to the site of a collapsed church across from Wicker Park's namesake park appears to finally be moving forward.

On Tuesday, seven members of the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development subcommittee voted to approve architect John Schiess' designs for two neighboring condo buildings offering four duplexes and three condos, respectively, at 1909-1911 and 1907 W. Schiller St. in Wicker Park.

The design for the 1907 W. Schiller St. brick and limestone building features curved glass windows overlooking the corner and only three instead of four condos as first planned. The height was reduced and Schiess made improvements to the condo garages on the Evergreen Street-facing side of the building.

"We heard the look of the garages were important. Each of the garages has natural wood doors with windows on the side," Schiess told about 10 attendees at the meeting, who were mainly neighbors of the future condos.

Next, the matter will go before the neighborhood group's main membership for a vote at its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Aug. 2 in the park field house, 1425 N. Damen Ave.

The corner where the homes would be located is across from Wicker Park's dog park on the Schiller Street side and faces historic two- and three-flat buildings on the Evergreen Street side.

Grant Drutchas, a member of the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development subcommittee, said the new designs by Schiess were "a vast improvement" over previous versions that neighbors said clashed with the historical look of homes on the sought-after Wicker Park block.

"It blends in well with the feel of the neighborhood and fits in better than the other options," Drutchas said.

While Lisa and Glenn Kahn, neighbors of the site, thanked Schiess for the design modifications based on their previous feedback, the couple questioned the placement of garages facing the homes on their street.

"I appreciate you made some modifications and tried to be more sensitive but this screams out something that's not in relation to the neighborhood street," Kahn said

Ed Tamminga, chairman of the subcommittee, told the Kahns, "You recognize that the garages have to be somewhere."

The unique shape of the triangular lot created a challenge for where to put cars because there is no alley access from the land parcel, Schiess said.

Peter Stevens, a principal with Forma Construction, told the group that he's finalizing a plan to buy the site from its current owners, Northfield-based development firm Interforum Holdings, in a deal that's contingent upon getting approval on the new plans.

Interforum Holdings bought the church in 2015 and had planned to preserve it and redevelop it into two single-family homes and two townhomes prior to the building collapse.

The revised home designs were first reported by Our Urban Times.

The Schiller Street or park-facing side of the proposed homes. [JCS Architects]

The front of the 3-unit condo building. [JCS Archiects/Courtesy of Our Urban Times]