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Plans Revealed To Preserve And Renovate Former Church In Kenwood

2/21/2018, 3:06 p.m. | Updated on 2/21/2018, 3:06 p.m.
Fourth Ward Alderman, Sophia King, recently hosted a community meeting to discuss the plans and concerns for the conversion of ...
Fourth Ward Alderman, Sophia King, recently hosted a community meeting to discuss the plans and concerns for the conversion of the former Shiloh Baptist Church building, located at 4840 S. Dorchester in Kenwood, to be converted into hi-end housing units. Photo Credit: Katherine Newman

Plans Revealed To Preserve And Renovate Former Church In Kenwood

By: Katherine Newman

Fourth Ward Alderman, Sophia King, recently hosted a community meeting to discuss the plans and concerns for the conversion of the former Shiloh Baptist Church building, located at 4840 S. Dorchester in Kenwood, to be converted into hi-end housing units.

This project has been in the works for about four years now,according to Robert Kirk, the architect on the project. Kirk spoke at the meeting and presented his detailed plan for construction and how he will preserve the historical structure.

“The framework of the building will stay the same. Access to the building will be from Dorchester and halfway down the building there will be access to a parking garage which will be in the basement level,” said Kirk.

There will be 24 parking spaces to serve the thirteen units so street parking will be unaffected by the new residents. Street parking during and after construction has been a major concern to people who live in the area and feel parking is already limited, according to Kirk.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks became involved in the project when a demolition permit for the building was filed. There was an immediately hold placed on the permit until it could be reviewed, according to a representative from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

“We did some analysis on the exterior walls and found out that that there was such a major deterioration in them that they do have to be taken out so that kicked us into a completely different category and Landmarks got involved,” said Kirk.

In December, after receiving notice that portions of the structure were in dangerously poor conditions Landmarks approved the partial demolition of the exterior walls, according to a representative from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

“Landmarks is really concerned with trying to preserve, because we are in a historic neighborhood, as much as we can on the look of the building. The arches will be preserved and rebuilt. We are going to try and reuse the existing brick that we take down during demolition.

We are working directly with landmarks to come to an agreement that we

are going to try and preserve the building as much as possible,” said Kirk.

Several neighborhood residents in attendance wanted to know exactly how long this project was going to take but unfortunately, there was no clear answer from Kirk.

Because there is such an emphasis on preservation, demolition could take up to three months. Workers must carefully remove all of the existing stone from the exterior and gently stack it to make sure it is safe and can be reused. When that is complete, construction can begin and is estimated to take about ten months, according to Kirk.

Alderman King did the mental math to provide a hypothetical timeline stating, “It sounds like it will be at least a year and a half.” Kirk stated that they are ready to go and demolition will start any day, as long as the weather cooperates.