July 17th: Special UVNA meeting about St. John’s church redevelopment

The UVNA asked Victor Drapszo, from Red Architects, to give a presentation on the changes planned at St. John’s church located at Walton and Hoyne.

The project is expected to have a variety of 2 and 3 bedroom units, and each of the buildings will have three floors with 10 units per building. The Landmarks Commission approved the plans, but a permit is needed from Alderman Fioretti’s office to begin construction. Tim Stevens, chief of staff from Alderman Fioretti’s office, was at the July 17th meeting and stated that no letter of support for the plans has been issued from the Alderman’s office yet. He also stated that the office wanted to get an idea of how the community felt about the project before proceeding.

The Church building

In the front of the building (Hoyne side), the façade and stained glass will be restored to their original state. The damaged stairs will be fixed, and new railings will be installed. On the side of the building (Walton side), the façade will be preserved, and the window shapes will remain the same. The stained glass on that side will be removed and either sold or reused elsewhere in the project.

The School building

The school building will also have the façade and windows restored, along with the front door (which will be decorative only). The glass blocks on the lower floor will be opened up into more traditional windows, and the molding around the windows will be restored. New entrances will be added on both sides. There will be an addition in the back, where the roof will be raised 10 feet. The addition will not be visible from the street per the terms of the Landmarks Commission.

Parking

Both buildings will have parking. There will be room for 10 cars in the church (accessed through one main garage door), 8 in the school (4 two-car garages off the alley), and 2 in outdoor spaces on the property (between the two buildings). The developers are proposing that cars use the back alleyway to enter and exit the parking areas.

Concerns

Many residents were concerned about the alley proposal. They believe the alley is too small to handle that kind of traffic (20 extra cars), that the extra traffic will damage their property, and that it is a more dangerous option, due to the sight lines exiting the alley. Victor replied that there will be a large garage door to exit from, so vehicles will have a wide turning radius. He also mentioned that the last plan, which had a curb cut onto Hoyne so cars could exit out the front of the building, had some concerns about sight lines coming out. In addition, the Landmarks Commission would prefer the design with the alley. They did not want to approve the curb cut on Hoyne, but left it up to the neighbors to decide if they were ok with the curb cut or not. Previous UVNA membership meetings and surveys showed neighbors were unhappy with a curb cut on Hoyne and preferred an alley exit for cars.

UVNA Requests

The UVNA is requesting additional protection for the alley, including mirrors, signage, and additional lighting be placed in the alley for the plan to move forward.

The UVNA has requested regular grounds maintenance for the duration of the project. Victor confirms that the contractor has been made aware of the need to move the red pickup truck near the site (currently parked on Hoyne), to trim the bushes and mow the grass around the property, and to secure all openings into the property.

Ongoing questions

1) Has an environmental study has been completed yet?

2) Does the building have insurance?

3) Why is the work taking place at odd hours, and who do we contact about the work crews? (The contractor will identify a main contact person for neighbors)

4) When will streets and the alley need to be shut down? (Currently they do not have the permit to begin work, so there is no timeline to share)

– Special thanks to Victor Drapszo, Tim Stevens, Leigh Kelsey, Kim Jackewicz, Patrick Danaher, Samantha Arnold, Paul Matwyshyn, George Matwyshyn, Harriet Siller and Steve Niketopoulos

Please stay tuned for more updates on www.uvna.org

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