Nearly three decades and several demolition scares after St. Boniface Church, at 1358 West Chestnut Street, was shuttered, the historic building is finally ready for its second life. Its cavernous interior will soon be carved into 17 condos, expected to be completed by 2020, with an additional 24 units slated for a new building next door on Chestnut Street, according to Michael Skoulsky of Stas Development, the project’s Wicker Park–based developer.
Even though a total gutting is required, the redo, helmed by Space Architects + Planners, will retain elements of the 114-year-old church, such as the large arched windows and exterior limestone columns. The towers and steeply pitched 35-foot ceiling will be integrated into the penthouses. Frescoes and even the graffiti scrawled inside the abandoned property will be repurposed as decorations in common areas.
Each unit will have a unique floor plan simply because of the shape of the church, Skoulsky says—and the new neighboring building will have a radically different look from the church. “When I first got the project, I really wanted it to flow together,” he says. “I made dozens of renderings with different brick, color elements, and stuff to tie the two together, and it didn’t look that great. What I ended up doing is the complete opposite.” That means modern finishes like aluminum paneling and bamboo floors—though buyers will be able to customize the units to their tastes. (“If they want a country cottage in the city, they can have it,” Skoulsky says.)
In a nod to the church’s charitable history, Northwestern Settlement, a social services agency, plans to move its offices into the new building. The nonprofit’s space will include four affordable housing units.
Skoulsky says that it’s still too early to give a price range for the units in the main part of the development, Skoulsky says, though he does concede that, given the size, “the prices may push the neighborhood.” (The average condo in Noble Square now goes for $511,000, according to Redfin.) Better hope you find some pennies from heaven scattered on the sidewalk.