“Officials finally are taking the first steps to landmark Pilsen’s iconic St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church after a years-long fight by former parishioners to preserve it. The city’s Department of Planning and Development is beginning a preliminary landmark recommendation report for the former church at 1650 W. 17th St., Commissioner Maurice Cox said at a community meeting Tuesday night.
“Cox’s announcement is the first public commitment from city leaders to preserve the church, which was deconsecrated last year and twice has been put up for sale by the Archdiocese of Chicago. ‘We’ve heard a lot about [how] St. Adalbert’s should be preserved, and we agree,” Cox said. “The city is ready to commit to preparing the designation report and to coordinate with the Archdiocese for designation and redevelopment of St. Adalbert.’
“‘This is an iconic landmark in Pilsen; that is without dispute,’ Cox said. “The city can begin the process of designation without the consent of the Archdiocese.’
“Peter Strazzabosco, spokesman for the city’s planning department, said the preparation of a preliminary report was the ‘first step in the city’s landmark designation process.’ The report will ‘propose protected features for the church structure, which typically include all exterior elevations, rooflines and other notable elements,’ he said in an email.
“The planning department is also assessing whether the St. Adalbert church building and the convent could be included under the landmarks ordinance, Strazzabosco said. The preliminary recommendation could be considered by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in the spring.” (Peña, 10/29/20)
“In September 2018, the Archdiocese hired commercial real estate firm SVN Chicago to try to sell the property again. A real estate listing at the time infuriated some Pilsen residents because it touted the church’s iconic towers as ‘perfect for penthouse units.’ The language was later removed.
“The development is the latest in a years-long battle Mexican and Polish parishioners have waged to try to save St. Adalbert Church from being closed and sold. Parishioners have appealed the deconsecration of the church, and the issue is making its way through the Vatican’s judicial system.
“The Society of St. Adalbert group has pitched plans for the site that would maintain the religious character of the church complex. ‘We have a plan that’s supported by the community that doesn’t involve real estate development,’ said group President Julie Sawicki.
“Following the deconsecration of the church in 2019, group leaders said they offered the archdiocese $2.03 million for the property — $1 million for the church and an additional $1.03 million for the rest of the site. But they never heard back about the offer, Sawicki previously told Block Club.
“‘Catholic law is very clear that a Catholic entity has first right to a Catholic church,’ Sawicki said. ‘The church should have been turned over to any Catholic entity. The fact that it hasn’t been turned over is outrageous. Period.’
“‘The [towers] could have been repaired at this point, but, instead, the scaffolding has remained for years and years and additional expenses have racked up.’ The group said they are continuing to fight but understand the property is still for sale. While it’s still listed, ‘we are fighting off developers and we just know that the property needs protection like exterior and interior landmarking in order to save it,’ Sawicki said.” (Peña, 9/17/20)
City Moves To Landmark Pilsen’s Beloved St. Adalbert Church After Years Of Activism; The preliminary recommendation could be considered by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in the spring, a spokesman said, Mauricio Peña, Block Club Chicago, 10/29/20
Beloved St. Adalbert Church In Pilsen No Longer Being Sold To Developer, Archdiocese Says; This is the second time a deal to buy the former Pilsen church campus has fallen through since 2016, Mauricio Peña, Block Club Chicago, 9/17/20