Monday, April 5, 2010

Church for Sale!

posted by chicago pop


Any Buyers?
St. Stephen's Church at 57th and Blackstone in Hyde Park



15 comments:

John said...

For sale: Historic church. Great location. Slightly run down. Must be able to tolerate the worst NIMBYs on earth. They will dictate to you exactly what they are willing to permit you to do on your property, and even if they agree with your use, they'll still block it just for giggles.

Richard Gill said...

"...the worst NIMBYs on earth...will dictate to you..."

And the present Alderman probably won't even try to confront the NIMBYs.

Greg said...

If I had lots of spare cash lying around I'd buy it, raze it to the ground, clear the lot, and use it to park my future collection of rusty, late 1970s fuel-crisis "Domestic sedans on cinder blocks" (registermark). I'd declare it art, file paperwork to create a 501c(3) Non-Profit museum and establish a trust to hire attorneys to file lawsuits against neighbors and Aldermen who try to shut it down.

If you're gonna stifle progress at least have some fun with it, I say.

GlassHospital said...

so glad to see a post! starting to think spring break had had a deleterious effect.......

Raymond said...

I just don't see how the neighbors can think that a rat-infested, dangerous, eyesore is better than new construction. I'd certainly trade rats for fewer parking spaces.

I have no actual knowledge of rats at this site...I'm just assuming.

Richard Gill said...

Hey Greg, would it enhance the artistic value of the junk-car exhibit to have my 1949-vintage American Flyer trains running around among the cinder blocks?

The existing covenant on the church site may even give the neighbors a say-so in merely razing the building. That's even before the part that gives them veto power over new construction. I'd like to know exactly what's in that covenant, and whether it was brokered by a previous Alderman or the current one.

As for the derelict building's status as a rat-infested eyesore, it has a significant "positive attribute" for the neighbors: it houses no people, so it generates no demand for street parking and gives the neighbors, in effect, a semi-private section of Blackstone Avenue.

David Farley said...

I thought the magical covenant was null and void if the building was sold to a new buyer.

bertha said...

You guys are all so bitter! I love it! There is also a lot of water in the basement, mosquito heaven. Bring on the West Nile...

Greg said...

The existing covenant on the church site may even give the neighbors a say-so in merely razing the building.

I'm pretty sure that was a special contract with the previous developer, who got royally screwed and wasted millions just because he was nice and made an effort to listen to the "neighbors" and satisfy their irrational demands. Since he relenquished ownership to the bank, I imagine that particular document is now void.

Whoever buys that site (if anyone does) would do well to act unilaterally and as quickly as possible.

Richard, bring your trains along too.

rdb said...

The best argument for not tearing it down is that it hasn't collapsed yet despite years of complete neglect.

Awahnee said...

I think the whole story is so sad. I have never intuitively quite understood how condos would work with that facade (where do the windows go?), though I admit I have never seen the plans or anything. Anyway, I think the facade is nice and it could serve as an interesting public or semi-public building.

Something like:

* A theater

* A special branch library of the U of C (like for some special collection of rare manuscipts, or the history of urban planning, yuk yuk)

* A billionaire's villa

* A hideout for Dr. Octopus (water in the basement?!)

* A monument to some politician less ambitious or prominent than Barack Obama (whose presidential library will likely take up a city block-equivalent), like an alderman or mayor

* A mini-megachurch (why not use it for what it was originally built for)?

*A parking garage -- drive in through the front door, out along the side -- great for shopping on 57th!)

chicago pop said...

Dr. Octopus!!!!!

Richard Gill said...

How about a drive-thru church? That way, there's no parking issue.

daileycr said...

Drive through church... nothing says 'salvation' like getting your Eucharist with a side of fries and biggie sizing the blood of Christ in the comfort of your air-conditioned vehicle.

Sadly, I do not know much of the back story of the site, but am sure that it is haunted by the ghosts of NIMBYs past, present, and future. It seems, however, that the building itself is beyond repair. I say raze it just to raze and and worry about what to put on the site after the fact.

rdb said...

Just razing isn't good enough. Hyde Park NIMBYs actually LOVE vacant lots, because the extra police protection (and general relative prosperity) mitigate the usual bad side effects of the vacant lot. No, you need an iron-clad detail to develop the site.