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Historic Kenwood church could become apartments, coworking space

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The revised proposal for St. James Methodist Church would preserve more of its sanctuary

An aerial image of stone church with a single spire and courtyard. It is surrounded by low-rise buildings and a body of water is visible in the distance.
A rendering of the former St. James Methodist Church at 4611 S. Ellis Avenue.
Courtesy 4th Ward

The ongoing apartment conversion of St. James Methodist Church in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood is cutting back the number of units and adding a coworking space. The shift from 43 to 29 dwelling units will preserve more of the beauty and architectural details of the 94-year-old structure’s sanctuary, according to the Hyde Park Herald.

Developer Ibrahim Shihade of Creative Designs Builders presented the latest version of the plan at a community meeting hosted by 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King in September. Although zoning at the corner of Ellis Avenue and 46th Street already allows residential use and some construction is underway, the addition of the coworking space will require zoning approval from the city.

The limestone-clad neo-Gothic structure was designed by Chicago architecture firm Tallmadge & Watson and completed in 1925 after a fire destroyed an earlier church at the corner. Faced with a dwindling congregation and mounting repair costs, St. James Methodist Church closed its doors in 2010.

Residents at September’s meeting raised concerns the plan’s 41 parking spaces may not be sufficient, reported Hyde Park Herald. Alderman King said she would hold a future meeting to discuss parking with residents of nearby Drexel Boulevard at a later date to be determined.

In the meantime, King is also preparing to host another community meeting to discuss the redevelopment of the sprawling Michael Reese hospital site in Bronzeville. That meeting is set for Tuesday, October 8 at 6 p.m. at the Carruthers Center, located at 700 E. Oakwood Boulevard.

A small assembly room with a few dozen people sitting in folding chairs, facing a speaker in front of presentation boards.
Kenwood residents attend a September 17 community meeting discussing the proposed redevelopment of the St. James Methodist Church.
Courtesy 4th Ward