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Will cemetery zoning scare off developers eyeing St. Adalbert’s property?

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez proposes to rezone the church land to prevent condo development.

St. Adalbert Church in Pilsen.
St. Adalbert Church in Pilsen.
Sun-Times file photo

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez wants to bury any plans developers might have for demolishing a historic Pilsen church to make way for condo buildings.

The 25th Ward alderman proposes to rezone St. Adalbert’s property for use as a cemetery; current zoning would allow most types of residential construction.

Sigcho-Lopez, a zoning committee member, said the rezoning “sends a message to the Archdiocese [of Chicago] that they can’t simply shut their doors, turn a profit, and permanently alter the core of a community without transparency and input.”

The proposal was assigned to the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards for consideration.

St. Adalbert, 1650 W. 17th St., was built by Polish immigrants in the early 1900s. It opened its doors to parishioners in 1914, and the church held its final Mass on July 14. According to the archdiocese, it’ll take more than $3 million to repair and stabilize the church building.

An archdiocesan spokesperson said the property, a block away from the CTA Pink Line 18th Street stop, has “been marketed for sale” and that the archdiocese “has had discussions with a number of potentially interested parties.”

Sigcho-Lopez said the archdiocese has “ignored multiple requests for transparency” surrounding the sale.

Blanca Torres, a Pilsen resident and a member of the St. Adalbert Preservation Society, said she hopes the rezoning will bring the archdiocese to the negotiating table.

“This church wasn’t built by the archdiocese. It was built by the people, and we deserve a chance to save it,” she said.

St. Adalbert Church in Pilsen.
SUN-TIMES PRINT COLLECTION

Carlos Ballesteros is a corps member of Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South Side and West Side.