St. Boniface changes hands; Wednesday meeting set

St. Boniface Church is on its way to becoming a 75-bed senior housing facility. The Oak Brook-based IPM Amicus development firm closed Oct. 20 on the building at 1358 W. Chestnut St.

The $20 million project will "save as much of the facade (towers) as possible," according to the IPM website. The firm's portfolio includes the Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center near Northbrook and Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies at 618 S. Michigan Ave., plus campus projects at the University of Chicago, Catholic Theological Union, Moody Bible Institute, Meadville-Lombard Theological School and East-West University.

Plans for St. Boniface by Vasilko Architects & Associates show a five-story west building behind the original towers, plus an east addition rising to eight stories. IPM expects to complete the facility by the end of 2013.

The Eckhart Park Community Council has called a "next steps" meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Northwestern Settlement House, 1012 N. Noble St. "One issue on the table," said EPCC webmaster Dominy Edwards, "is the possible reuse of the school facade that was dismantled and put in storage, reportedly at a cemetery, in 2003 when the Archdiocese of Chicago demolished the school and convent that stood to the east of the church."

In any event, the Eckhart Park group has a line to the developers. IPM told the group it is "committed to working with the community and preservationists," according to the Eckhart Park website.

Ken McHugh, IPM chief executive, said the church has sustained considerable damage in two years, according to the preservationist site On Friday, a development teem found flooring and roof damage. The building must be secured after signs of basement break-in.

“Fortunately the exterior, while suffering the passage of time, gave us encouragement that our mission of incorporating the front and west facade into the new senior housing structure remains feasible.” McHugh said.

IPM bought the church and is leasing the land from the archdiocese in a land swap with the city that expands St. Joseph-Immaculate Conception school to the former Byrd Elementary site at 363 W Hill St.

EVA News: Window repair, Chicago Bowl vote, West Town values

The Monday, Nov. 1 meeting of the East Village Association will include a presentation on vintage window repair and a vote on live music at Chicago and Wolcott. Details are in the East Village News for November, which can be downloaded here. Other features: a potential plan for the former Pizza Hut at Division & Ashland and a look at West Town property values.

West Town housing affordable, stable

The area that includes East Village, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village and surrounding neighborhoods rank 6th in condo and 8th in house price among the city's 77 census areas.

The average West Town condo price is $346,564, according to the October 2010 issue of Chicago magazine, with 985 sold in the first half of this year and the second half of 2009. The ranking is compiled from multiple-listings reports.

Only the Near North Side ($492,904) and Lake View ($344,684) rack up more sales in a year's time. Prices are lower on the Near West Side ($313,248) and Logan Square ($276,906).

Single-family homes in West Town are comparatively rare, with log more single-family sales, including the Near North Side (averaging $2.3 million), Lake View ($1 million) and North Center ($766,949).

West Town prices fell 6 percent short of last year for condos and 11 percent for houses. Property values are holding steadier than in all adjoining areas but Lincoln Park, which is down by less than 3 percent for both condos ($442,510) and houses ($1.7 million).

The Chicago Tribune real estate heat map prices West Town's typical home at $357,000, down less than 1 percent from last year.

The Tribune figures are based on 353 property transfer filings from May through July. The price is a median, with half the sales for more and half for less.

An Oct. 23 Tribune real-estate feature on West Town cited three recent sales south of Chicago Avenue at $189,500, $440,000 and $488,000, and a higher-end property north of North Avenue at $915,000. The article focuses on local points of interest, including Commercial Park and businesses in the West Town Chamber of Commerce.

Green window repair at Nov. 1 EVA meeting

Dan Nehm, carpenter and founder of Chicago Green Windows, talks about energy efficiency and repair of vintage windows at the Nov. 1 meeting of the East Village Association.

The East Village resident will describe materials and methods he uses for making old windows virtually as energy-efficient as new windows. Nehm will discuss costs and sustainability of old windows, new windows, storm windows and replacement windows.

Visitors at the 7 p.m. meeting in the Happy Village, at 1059 N. Wolcott, can ask questions and see a model vintage window, plus samples of weatherstripping, putty, airseals, and repair parts.

Chicago Green Windows is a company focusing on window solutions for vintage buildings, including repairs, weatherization and new, historically correct wood window installations. Learn more at

Nehm is a journeyman carpenter with an economics degree from the University of Wisconsin. His business grew from a belief that the best renovation practice is not to send old-growth wood windows to a landfill or to replace them with cheap windows that would fail in a few years. In 2007 he was briefly profiled in the City of Chicago’s Climate Change Action Plan as one of the “Ordinary Chicagoans Making a Difference."

His finish carpentry is on view in some of the finest mansions and law offices in downtown Chicago.He has also managed corporate consulting projects, and built commercial buildings and suburban houses. Nehm has extensive experience in custom and production trim work, door hanging, cabinetry, staircase installation and commercial door hardware installation. His credentials include InstallationMaster Certified new window installer.

EVA members are scheduled to vote Nov. 1 on the Chicago Bowl development at 1850 W. Chicago. The developer plans a performance space in the bowling alley and seeks EVA support for a city Public Place of Amusement license.

Also on the agenda is a Business Minute presentation from Bend Yoga & Movement Studio, 906 N. Damen.and hear a Business Minute presentation from Bend Yoga & Movement Studio, 906 N. Damen.

What will replace Pizza Hut? One developer's idea

Agosto presentation
The East Village Association board reviews a speculative plan for the former Pizza Hut property at 1601 W. Division. EVA has supported transit-oriented development of the site.
Board meeting minutes for Oct. 11, 2010 submitted by Dana Palmer

Board Members: Neal McKnight, Nicole Semple, Dana Palmer, Stephen Rynkiewicz, Scott Rappe and Tom Tomek
Non-Board Members: Marjorie Isaacson, Rich Anselmo, Brooke Ingram, David Agosto and Jillian Tenebrini
Meeting commenced: 6:40 p.m. at Leona's, 1936 W. Augusta

Chicago Bowl

The board will recommend not opposing a Public Place of Amusement license for Chicago Bowl, 1834-50 W. Chicago. This will be brought to a membership vote Nov. 1.

Cab stand on Chicago

A cab stand will not be necessary if Chicago Bowl comes in because Chicago Avenue is a major street with a large amount of cab traffic already.

Dog waste clean-up

Dana Palmer made signs to be posted in the neighborhood notifying the public to clean up after their pets. These signs will be distributed at the membership meeting in November. Board agreed to reimburse Dana Palmer for sign-making expenses.

Ald. Joe Moreno also committed to purchasing boxes for dog waste bags that can be placed throughout the neighborhood. However, the public will be responsible for refilling those boxes.

Augusta Boulevard parking

Scott Rappe reported that the alderman will not support changes in meter parking on this street because the metered spots were designated in the parking deal.

Trees on Augusta

Neal McKnight reported that within 30 days a survey will take place to locate and document all the trees in the neighborhood. Volunteers will be needed. This will be the first step in the attempt to have trees placed on Augusta Boulevard.

Police liaison

Tom Tomek reported to the group about the monthly CAPS meeting he attended. He has agreed to attend meetings to keep EVA apprised of criminal issues in the area.

Pizza Hut property

David Agosto presented plans to build a tower at the old Pizza Hut location at the southwest corner of Division and Ashland. Agosto stated the property could support only a bank or drugstore on its first floor. The board was very concerned about complications to an already high level of vehicular traffic.

The plans involve a drive-through on the first floor with traffic exiting onto Ashland Avenue. Concerns were raised about effects on the bus stop, bike lane and high pedestrian traffic. The proposal does not match Special Service Area plans and community sentiment for pedestrian-friendly business.

Rappe is to draft a letter stating the board voted to not support Agosto's proposal.

November membership meeting

Chicago Bowl group will be make a presentation and the group will be asked to vote on support of a PPA. Also, Dan Nehm will be doing a presentation on green windows and a representative from Bend Yoga will be doing the business minute.

Membership list

Dana Palmer has agreed to update the current membership list by the Nov. 1 meeting.

Student projects

Brooke Ingram with the School of Art Institute was present at the meeting to talk about a planning project for the Polish Triangle and its CTA station (Blue Line at Division) and to learn what residents wanted.

Urban Transportation Center research assistant Jillian Tenebrini and a fellow University of Illinois at Chicago student also were present. They are working on a project involving Chicago Avenue from Ashland to Western, to examine why that area is underdeveloped and how it can be improved.

Meeting adjourned: 8:20 p.m.

Enrollment opens at LaSalle II language academy

Neil McKnight yields the floor to Nicole Aquino, LaSalle II world language coordinator.

The 375 students at LaSalle II school choose Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish or Urdu as a second language, world language coordinator Nicole Aquino told the East Village Association Oct. 4. They should be able to enter high school at levels 2 or 3 of the four foreign-language levels in the Chicago Public Schools.

The magnet school at 1148 N. Honore is accepting candidates for next school year. Print applications for pre-kindergarten or elementary school are available at the CPS magnet-school website. A pupil now can apply at up to 20 schools; Aquino recommended sending applications by registered mail for proof of delivery. Last year, the CPS central office took nearly 1,000 LaSalle II applications.

EVA board member Tom Tomek's children transferred to LaSalle II from private school and Tomek said the neighborhood location has worked out better. Siblings of LaSalle students and residents within a 1½-mile area are given priority, but principals do not have discretion to admit candidates, Aquino said.

The school's teachers all will be on hand at an Oct. 16 open house. Two half-hour tours are scheduled at 10 and 11 a.m., before and after a presentation from principal Suzanne Velasquez-Sheehy.

The meeting was convened at 7 p.m. by EVA vice president Neil McKnight, and opened with Daniel Sirko of Birchwood Kitchen, 2211 W. North, which was voted best new BYOB in the Metromix reader poll.

Following the LaSalle II presentation, Scott Rappe reviewed issues discussed in a meeting with planning co-chair McKnight and 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno:

  • Parking meters on Augusta Boulevard cannot be removed without being relocated.
  • Ald. Moreno volunteered to install dog-waste disposal boxes in the ward if EVA provides bags.
  • EVA members will vote Nov. 1 whether to object to a performance license for Chicago Bowl, a bowling alley under development at 1834-50 W. Chicago. "This proposal seems on its face pretty reasonable and maybe a good shot in the arm for Chicago Avenue," Rappe said. "It seems to be the bowling alley is ancillary to the concert venue."
  • Rappe and McKnight reviewed development concerns for the former Pizza Hut property at 1601 W. Division, which appears to be in foreclosure.
  • Two new smoke shops on Division Street are a concern for their locations near LaSalle II. Ald. Moreno would consider treating tobacco shops as a special use, which is the case for nail salons on Division.

The meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m. after a report on the EVA Facebook and Twitter pages. The EVA board meets at 6:30 p.m. at Leona's, 1936 W. Augusta.

The next EVA meeting, Nov. 1 in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott, featuring Chicago Bowl developer Peter Shapiro and a presentation from Bend Yoga at 906 N. Damen.