29
Aug 14

A history of St. John’s church, the community vote and what to expect

 

Below is a summary of what was discussed at the recent UVNA meeting in regards to the redevelopment of the old St. John’s church and school building at the corner of Hoyne and Walton.

St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church
It was built between 1905 and 1906 by German immigrants and Worthmann & Steinbach, a Chicago-based architectural firm. The congregation and school trace their history back to 1867 (Chicago itself was founded in 1833 and incorporated in 1837). In the case of St. John’s they dissolved in 1974 and sold the property to the Seventh-day Adventists. They started a Spanish-speaking congregation in the church and used the school as a social service center. Then, as with the congregation before them, their congregation moved from the area and they decided to sell the property.

By 2002, when it was known as the Central Hispanic Church, engineers report significant structural movement. Places the floor had separated from the walls. In 2005, the interior was stripped bare, with all of the pews and other furnishings removed. In 2009, a city water main broke and the basement was flooded before it was discovered and stopped. Since then vandals have also ripped out the building’s plumbing and wiring, causing extensive damage in the process.

In 2012 the property was listed for $2.6 million: “the Church will be offered via sealed-bid auction with a minimum bid set at $1 million”. Alex Troyanovsky bought the former Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in February of 2013 for around $1.1 million. That same month the building were designated a historical landmark by the city, thanks to the efforts of Alderman Waguespack.

In the 2 years since there have been proposals for redevelopment that were eventually not supported by the Landmarks Commission and in some cases not supported by neighbors. In July 2014, Landmarks approved the newest plans for redevelopment, leading to an outdoor meeting of the UVNA to discuss the plans with the new project architect Victor Drapszo of Red Architects.

The current plan is expected to have a variety of 2 and 3 bedroom units, and each of the buildings will have three floors with a possible 10 units per building.

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.
Some residents at our July meeting were concerned about the alley proposal for garage traffic. They believe the alley is too small to handle that kind of traffic (20 extra cars). In addition, the Landmarks Commission would prefer the design with the alley. They did not want to approve the curb cut and added traffic onto Hoyne, Previous UVNA membership meetings and surveys showed neighbors were unhappy with a curb cut and preferred an alley exit for cars.

In July the UVNA had 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 had also requested regular grounds maintenance for the duration of the project (trim the bushes and mow the grass around the property, and to secure all openings into the property).

Property: By August the grounds had been cleaned up, and the architect wrote us that “we can provide additional safety elements like additional lighting and mirrors on intersection of Walton Street and alley, for the safety of pedestrians and one way traffic on Walton St. For the school garage, we will move the parking stalls as far as possible into the building so it will give more space for turns.”
Also neighbors wanted more accountability on work taking place at odd hours. Igor with MBI construction is the main contact, just reach out to Steve Niketopoulos at president@unva.org if you need help with any issues.

Regarding construction, all that has been done is interior demolition. As of the August meeting they did not have the permit to begin work on the outside, so there is no timeline to share. What we do know is they hope to have the School building ready for sales next Fall (2015), and already have a name for the new project, calling this “The Belfry”. The Church building should be ready for sales a few months after the School building.

Community Vote: At the August UVNA Membership meeting we discussed all the above points. The vote for the Church redevelopment was 20-3 in favor. The vote for UVNA membership was 11-1 in favor, while neighbors who were not current members voted 9-2 in favor. We made sure to let all neighbors who attended to have a say in this process as this has been something in development for years.

Many neighbors believed it was more important to see this property refurbished and lived in than remain vacant and not maintained. We plan on adding any new information about construction timelines to our mailing list and Facebook page as soon as we receive them. We have contacted the 2nd Ward to let Alderman Fioretti know we support these current plans.

Thank you to everyone for being an engaged community, through the efforts of many neighbors this building will remain a fixture in Ukrainian Village.

* Full plans for the development are available here: http://www.uvna.org/2014/07/urgent-meeting-this-thursday-night-about-development-changes-to-the-old-st-johns-church-building-and-school-hoynewalton/


06
Aug 14

Vote coming August 14th on St. John’s Church Condo Redevelopment Plan

The August 14th meeting of the UVNA will feature a vote on the plans for the redevelopment of old St. John’s church. The meeting will be held at Whisk, 2018 W. Chicago Ave.

This was featured today in an article from DNA info: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140806/ukrainian-village/st-john-church-condos-await-community-input-after-landmarks-oks-plans

photo credit (Igor Michin/MBI Builders). Thanks to DNAinfo.com


18
Jul 14

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


14
Jul 14

Urgent Meeting this Thursday night about development changes to the old St. Johns church and school building (Hoyne/Walton)

Please join the UVNA and Victor Drapszo from Red Architects for a discussion about the redevelopment plans for the old St. Johns church property (located at the corner of Walton and Hoyne).

This happens Thursday night July 17th at 7:30pm. We will be meeting outside of the old church at the corner of Walton/Hoyne to talk about what work is being done, what changes have been made to the last plan we saw in early spring, and what neighbors can expect to see change in the neighborhood because of this development.

Neighbors who share an alley with the old church should especially make a point of attending the meeting.

The plans that were most recently submitted to the city are attached below:

913-925 N_ HOYNE-SCHOOL (1)

931-925 N HOYNE-CHURCH set

 


03
Jun 14

UVNA working with neighborhood groups for street festival accountability

The UVNA has joined forces with four other neighborhood organizations to work towards financial and logistical accountability. Our request letter is attached below.

We ask for:
-Complete transparency of festival financial statements. Including a detailed breakout of sponsorships, vendors, beer sales, grants, expenses & donations (at minimum, for the prior two years).
-Inclusion of neighborhood groups in each festival’s logistics, safety & police plans in a timely fashion so they can have input and inform residents of what to expect.
-Understanding that profits vary by fest, we would like more consistency between fests in our neighborhoods regarding the portion of proceeds that go to community beneficiaries.
-If the festival decides to take donations, they must post signage explaining how the donation will be used. (Chicago law states that you can’t charge admission to the public way) This should include an established percentage of the gate to be donated to the identified non-profit, excluding festival organizers.
-Each festival takes the responsibility to make sure any community organizations or non-profits receiving funds [or donations] are legitimate and are using proceeds as stated to go back into the neighborhood on a timely basis

More information can be found in these two articles

OurUrbanTimes:http://oururbantimes.com/residential-orgs/too-much-diversion-and-obfuscation-show-us-festival-books-demand-5-community-groups

DNAinfo: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140528/wicker-park/neighborhood-fests-should-open-books-consult-residents-groups-demand

      Updated 6/4: We have had good meetings with the West Town Chamber of Commerce about festival accountability, looking forward to working more closely with them on additional neighborhood concerns due to the street festivals.