St. Boniface development: So close and yet so far


Proposed entrance on south side of St. Boniface

Residents, preservationists, the Catholic church, many in Chicago's Planning Department and Alderman Walter Burnett, 27th Ward, were rejoicing in September 2016 when Noble Square resident and developer Michael Skoulsky, Stas Development, Inc. signed the deal to purchase the St. Boniface Church property, Noble and Chestnut. Yet, the project is once again caught in a City Hall web. 

Deception, self-interest, fraud and a list of other distractions have been part of moving this project forward to preserve an historic structure and re-integrate an important Noble Square land parcel as a productive member of the community. 

Working with neighbors, the Alderman, community organizations and Preservation Chicago, Skoulsky promised that his development would be low density with a low building profile. 

All the work to define the parcel as a Planned Development meeting the density commitment and other requests has been done. Skoulsky, working with Space Architects have developed architectural plans. The financing is in place and the church building is secure and stabilized. But, the city has not provided a RDA (Re-Development Agreement). 

In the meantime the city has a new affordable housing rule which was not part of the original planning and it is unknown how that might affect the project. 

With an estimate that the RDA document could take several months to create, the earliest Skoulsky could be ready to begin the building process would be between three to four more months. While the project waits for the city to provide a document, payments on the project's loans have to be paid. 

Skoulsky, despite what it has taken to get to the current impasse still expresses excitement about what the project will be upon completion. 

"Seeing the light come through the once boarded-up window spaces after 30 years was amazing. It is so beautiful. This will be the best church conversion in Chicago," he said with much confidence. 


The buildings
The proposed plans include three buildings: A new two story building (Sub A) on Noble, north of the church, the redeveloped church (Sub B) as a four-story, 17-unit condo building and a new four-story (Sub C) condo with 24 units. 

All buildings are ADA compliant, with an elevator.  With the exception of Sub A, all units have between 1,370 and 2,214 square feet with two or three bedrooms. 

Parking, except for Sub A, is underground with one space per unit plus three additional slots. The garages have one entrance which is accessed off the alley from Walton. 

New exterior building materials will be brick with composite aluminum clad facades. Skoulsky's goal is to have the least maintenance required. 

Sub A
To meet City and Church requirements for the purchase of the land, the developer must have a community based partner. The Northwestern University Settlement House (NUSH), established 126 years ago, at Augusta and Noble has become that new community partner, after the Chicago Academy of Music was no longer qualified. 

"We are very, very excited to be part of this development," says NUSH's Ron Manderschied, President and CEO. "This has two major components that allow NUSH to better serve the community. One is space to expand a new successful Family Care program, that has a mental health component, in our existing building. The other is to house staff on site, because cost of living space in the area has become so expensive and 'unaffordable.'" 


First floor of NUSH building


NUSH building 2nd floor

In Sub A, the first floor space will be for NUSH administration and human resources. The second floor will provide affordable housing space for NUSH staff and AmeriCorp. 

In addition, they will have four-car parking pad behind the building. 

Sub B


South side of proposed church redevelopment

The re-developed church will have two duplexed apartment, basement/first floor, in addition to the other 15 single-floor units. 

The current white wall on the east side, which will face Sub C, will have a new composite and aluminum clad surface.


White wall is church's east side


First floor of church

Sub C
This newly constructed building will have 24 condo units and the prices, therefore may be slightly less expensive, says Skoulsky. 

The unit mix will have two and three bedrooms with three duplexed units on the first floor/basement. Units square footage ranges from 2,513 to 1304.


First floor of 4-story residential building


Floors 2 through 4



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