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On a tip from a reader we've learned that developer IPM Amicus has changed its plans for the redevelopment of St. Boniface church into senior housing, and the new plan calls for keeping the entire church intact (with some modifications to the structure, of course). Previous plans called for demolishing the north and eastern walls of the church, but keeping the four towers. That plan seemed feasible because the previous property owner's due diligence and building report indicated that the towers were supported by steel beams, but when IPM Amicus did its own assessment, it found that there wasn't enough support to keep the towers from crumbling. "Having steel in the towers was big plus," IMP CEO Kenneth McHugh tells Curbed, "but the steel only existed in the report." In order to follow through with the original plan, scaffolding would have to be erected, spanning all of Noble Street, and the cost of stabilization would've been roughly $1.5 million. "It would've looked like the Eiffel Tower," McHugh says.
Instead, the developer went back to the drawing board and returned with a new plan that will likely please preservationists. The nave of the old church will remain intact, and a reinforced steel frame will be installed, dividing the church into 41 senior units. Because IPM Amicus will only be able to get 41 units out of the church, they plan to build a new six-story building on the adjacent lot to the east, the site of a former school. That building will have 43 units, and it will mimic the massing of the former grade school, according to McHugh. The site of the former rectory, just north of the church, which was recently demolished (see demo photos here), will be a garden space with an emergency entrance/exit.
The original plan was to be executed in two phases, with a maximum of 125 units. Under the current plan, just 84 total units will be built, and it will all be done in one phase. McHugh says he's currently working to secure financing for the project, and his company will apply for a zoning change in the next 3 or 4 weeks. If everything goes according to plan, construction could begin in late winter or early spring, 2012, and he's hoping for spring 2013 occupancy.
But what about the architectural features inside the church? Is there anything left to save? McHugh has spent years trying to track down the church's old stained glass windows, to no avail. "Gang symbols provide most of the decoration now," McHugh says. "The exterior is where the spirit of St. Boniface is now."
· Complete Curbed coverage of St. Boniface [Curbed Chicago]
· New St. Boniface Plan Includes Saving Entire Church Building [St. Boniface Info]