CHICAGO-The Archdiocese of Chicago has three South Side parishes on the sales block, though not necessarily for the highest bidders. A key requirement for the sale of 182,350 sf of surplus property will be an intended use that fits in with the surrounding neighborhood, which in all cases, includes other Roman Catholic parishes within walking distance.

Those parishes also stand to reap the benefit of the sale of the assets.

“It’s not just a dollars and cents decision,” says Staubach Co. senior vice president Martin F. Jablonski, whose company has been hired by the Chicago Archdiocese. “The Archdiocese is ambitious about returning the land to vital, community use.”

The assignment is not a typical list-and-sell situation, Jablonski suggests to Rather, the job started four months ago with meetings with city officials and community leaders at the archdiocese’s suggestion, he recalls, with city department of planning and development commissioner Alicia Berg and three aldermen whose wards include the mostly-vacant church properties among the first visits.

In addition, the archdiocese intends to reinvest the proceeds in the community, Jablonski tells “How often do you see it happen where real estate is being sold, and the proceeds are being reinvested in the community by the former owner?” Jablonski adds.

Jablonski does not hazard a guess how much those proceeds may total. “We’re not even establishing a number,” Jablonski explains. “We’ll let the market tell us what they’re worth.”

On the block are the St. Laurence church, school, convent and rectory at 7140 S. Dorchester Ave.; Assumption/St. Catherine of Genoa church, school, convent and rectory at 640 W. 118th St.; and St. Leo the Great church, convent and rectory at 7747 S. Emerald Ave., the largest of the three properties at 77,300 sf.

Residential redevelopment that could include senior housing, as well as use by community groups or other religious denominations are emerging as the likely scenarios for the properties, Jablonski says. The Staubach Co.’s complex transactions group, which has set a Jan. 13 deadline for offers, has showings scheduled this next week.

Within the past three years, the archdiocese has concluded it had too many parishes on the South Side to serve the local Roman Catholic community, and decided fewer churches with stronger congregations was the way to go, Jablonski tells

Some artifacts, including stained-glass windows, have been removed from the assets on the sales block, Jablonski says, relocated to other parishes, including a newly-opened church in southwest suburban Tinley Park. However, with buildings that include churches with more than 70 feet of clear height, “the more sophisticated buyers know they are very valuable structures,” he adds.

Besides helping target potential redevelopment options, meetings with city and community leaders this summer can be expected to help the buyers’ plans advance, Jablonski suggests. “Whatever ends up happening, we’re going to have good community support there,” he adds.

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