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Old Wicker Park church slated for residential conversion collapses mid-renovation

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Roughly half of the shuttered Mision Cristiana was destroyed in the early morning collapse

Firefighters responded to the 1900 block of W. Schiller Street in Wicker Park this morning around 6 AM after roughly half of a building that formerly housed the Mision Cristiana Family Ministries unexpectedly crumbled. Though several nearby parked cars were damaged, the collapse resulted in no reported injuries at this time.

Vacant for several years, the 16,000-squre foot building was in the midst of a major renovation project headed by Alex Zdanov and Igor Blumin of Northbrook-based Interforum Holdings. According to DNAinfo, the developers purchased Mision Cristiana in mid 2015 and planned to convert the property into two townhomes and a pair of single family homes.

Though Fire Chief Dan Cunningham came short of declaring foul play, the city official did suggest that things were not being done correctly. "There were no permits. There is somebody responsible for this," Cunningham told DNAinfo this morning at the scene of the collapse.

A crew of approximately 15 workers involved in the building’s interior demolition were reportedly permitted for drywall installation and related electrical work. Meanwhile, the deconversion of the old church’s attached two-story apartment structure into single family homes was signed-off by the city in early September. That adjoining annex building also sustained damage this morning.

Assumed to have been constructed between 80 and 100 years ago to serve the neighborhood’s Serbian population, the building is not protected as architecturally significant and was omitted from Wicker Park's landmark district. It’s unclear what is next for the Mision Cristiana building and what—if anything—can be salvaged moving forward.