A Skokie-based company that specializes in acquiring and rehabbing distressed properties has applied for a special use permit and several zoning variances to convert the former St. Barbara convent at 4000 Forest Ave. in Brookfield into a six-unit apartment building.
ISC Capital Series 4000 LLC will make its pitch before the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on May 26 at 7 p.m. in the council chamber of the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.
Sale of the property is contingent on approval of the plan by the village board, which will consider any recommendation in favor or against made by the Planning and Zoning Commission. According to the online real estate listing, the property is priced at $200,000.
The plan requires a special use permit because the renovated building would be a multifamily use in an area zoned for single-family residential. The developer is asking for a zoning variation to permit one onsite parking space per unit and they have proposed leveling a garage at the rear of the property to create a 50-foot-wide parking pad behind the building.
In order to fit six parking spaces on that pad, the developer is also asking for zoning variance to permit those spaces to be 8 feet wide if they are not allowed to use the full 50-foot width of the lot. The proposal also asks for a variance to the required setback for onsite parking.
Allowing use of the full width for parking would require a lot-coverage variance. The building is already non-conforming in terms of lot coverage. The zoning district allows maximum lot coverage of 35 percent, and the existing structures already cover 70.4 percent of the property. Extending the parking pad in the rear would bring lot coverage to 75 percent.
Other zoning variances being requested include for required minimum greenspace and lot area per dwelling unit.
“We want to preserve the look of the neighborhood,” said Brandon Kurdziel, one of the partners in the LLC.
The interior arrangement itself is unusual, according to a site plan submitted with the zoning variance application. The three main-floor units offer two-story living, with living rooms and kitchen/dining areas on the main floor and bedrooms on the basement level, accessed via stairways in each unit. Each of the main floor units also has its own utility/laundry area on the lower level.
Two of the main-floor apartments, measuring 1,442 and 1,534 square feet, have three bedrooms and 2.5 baths, including a master bedroom suite on the main floor. The third main-floor apartment, at 1,881 square feet, has five bedrooms and three baths. That unit shows two bedrooms, including a master suite on the main floor and three more bedrooms in the lower level.
The three second-floor units have two bedrooms. The two units contained to the second floor have one bathroom and measure 723 and 817 square feet, according to the plan. The third unit has one bedroom on the second floor and a “penthouse” master suite with a second full bath above. That unit is 1,053 square feet.
ISC Capital’s proposal is the first regarding renovation of the former convent, which has been vacant for many years. There had been interest previously in retrofitting the shuttered school at 8900 Windemere Ave. into a multifamily building, but the deal never materialized.
The school building does not appear to be actively listed by the archdiocese at this time. Kurdziel said his company might be interested in exploring that option as well if it does come back on the market.
Kurdziel’s partner in the convent conversion project is ISC Capital’s principal, David Itah.
The Archdiocese of Chicago, which is responsible for marketing the St. Barbara school and convent buildings, last year rejected a bid by St. Nikola Serbian Orthodox Church to purchase the entire St. Barbara campus.
St. Nikola officials subsequently purchased the former St. Hugh Parish property in Lyons. It’s not clear what the sale price was, but on March 10, the same day as the sale, St. Nikola secured an $850,000 mortgage from Countryside-based MGR Freight Systems Inc.
The St. Barbara school/convent and the St. Hugh property were placed on the market by the archdiocese after those congregations went through the Renew My Church parish consolidation process.
St. Barbara merged with St. Louise de Marillac to form Holy Guardian Angels Parish. Both churches still function as worship sites. After St. Hugh’s merger with St. Mary in Riverside and Mater Christi in North Riverside, the archdiocese decided to sell off the St. Hugh property.