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Time is Running Out for St. Boniface Church

The Chicago Academy of Music is requesting more time from the courts before a demolition permit is issued on the decaying church

Flickr Creative Commons/Mikel Pickett

While there is a buyer lined up for the deteriorating St. Boniface Church in East Village, preservationists and community stakeholders are beginning to feel the pressure to get the details ironed out. Earlier this month, the Chicago Academy of Music announced their intentions of purchasing the building to convert it into a music school. However, to make the plan financially feasible, the organization is now looking at building new residences on the vacant lot next door to St. Boniface.

The Chicago Academy of Music presented their the letter of intent to purchase the building at a court hearing last week, but the organization is now asking that the court allows them a 75 day extension before issuing a demolition permit to the church's current owner. The extension would give the Chicago Academy of Music a chance to sort out some of the finer details and to present their plan to community members. The plan to build out a music school in the St. Boniface Church building and new residences next door would require a zoning change if it were to move forward.

However, according to preservationists and community stakeholders, there is one other major hurdle holding back the sale: the building's current owner. According to Bob Zwolinski, a community member participating in the planning process, the building's current owner, Carefree Development, has denied the sale agreement because of the zoning change that the Chicago Academy of Music is seeking.

There's no exact determination on how many residences the Chicago Academy of Music wants to build on the property next door, but it could be somewhere in the range of 75 to 100, Zwolinski suggests. And while zoning changes for new residential developments can sometimes be controversial and receive pushback from community members, Zwolinski believes that the Chicago Academy of Music's plan may be St. Boniface's last hope.