WIN: Construction Begins for Residential Adaptive Reuse of Long-Vacant Our Lady of Lourdes School

Our Lady Lourdes School, 4641 N. Ashland Avenue. Photo credit: Kennedy Mann
Our Lady Lourdes School, 4641 N. Ashland Avenue. Photo credit: Kennedy Mann

“School’s out and apartments are in. Construction is underway at a former Uptown Catholic school building, with the developer set to transform the school into 42 apartments by summer.

“The Archdiocese of Chicago sold Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic School, 4640 N. Ashland Ave, to Honore Holdings last year for $5 million. The school closed in 2004, and has seen little use since then except for events held in its basement.

“Honore Holdings founder Mike Shenouda called the school property “a great project for the neighborhood.”

“‘We generally love some of these older church properties because of the great bones and because of their historical significance,’ Shenouda said. ‘They just lend themselves very well to apartments and places people want to live.’

“Honore, which also renovated a former nunnery in Little Italy, has a working relationship with the archdiocese. In a statement, the archdiocese said the sale will help fund church efforts in the community.

“Katarina Garcia, president of nonprofit Our Lady of Lourdes Church Preservation Society, said she was disappointed to find out the school had been sold.

“While it’s too late for the school building, Garcia said she hopes something can be done to preserve the church across the street and its cherished grotto, which is modeled after the grotto in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in southwestern France, a Catholic holy site. The church will continue to hold Mass until May 19. What happens after that is still unclear.

“‘The parish has not made a decision regarding the future of the remaining portion of the Our Lady of Lourdes campus,’ Saint Mary of the Lake and Our Lady of Lourdes Church said in a release.

“The parish is looking for ways to relocate or rebuild the grotto, saying in a release that the church needs $2 million in ‘immediate repairs.’

“Some parishioners have questioned why the sale of the school building couldn’t be used to cover the church repair costs. But according to archdiocesan policy, property sales can no longer be used for repairs ‘with no plan for future sustenance of that building.’

“An online petition asking to save the church has garnered over 300 signatures, though Garcia said her organization has collected thousands more in physical petitions.

“Garcia said she is working to persuade the archdiocese to grant the church landmark status — but if that doesn’t work, her organization is raising money in advance of the church going on the market.

“‘We have many exciting ideas to secure funding and revive the shrine,’ Garcia said in an email. ‘We just want to be given the chance before they approach a developer.’ (Hettleman, Chicago Sun-Times, 2/29/24)

Read the full story at Chicago Sun-Times

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