30th Ward: migrant shelter at St. Barts in Portage Park moving forward, 24 rentals planned for former St. Wenceslaus School, new eatery targeted for Golden Nugget
by BRIAN NADIG
Plans are moving forward for a migrant shelter at the former Saint Bartholomew school and convent in Portage Park, while another former parochial school in the 30th Ward would be converted into 24 apartments, said Alderwoman Ruth Cruz.
“Negotiations have been finalized. The city is working on one more thing before new arrivals start moving to the convent,” Cruz said on Jan. 27. “We are almost there.”
The school building reportedly needs more time to prepare for housing. The plan calls only for the school building at 4910 W. Addison St. and the former convent at 4933 W. Patterson Ave. to be used as shelters, as the school’s former junior high building at 4941 W. Patterson Ave. is not part of the temporary shelter plan.
Officials have said that 300 to 350 people would be housed on the site.
The Portage Park parish merged in 2021 with the Saint Pascal and Our Lady of Victory parishes to form the new Our Lady of the Rosary Parish. The Saint Bartholomew Church, 3601 N. Lavergne Ave., and Saint Pascal Church, 3935 N. Melvina Ave., remain open, while the Our Lady of Victory Church, 5212 W. Agatite Ave., closed in late 2021.
More than 34,000 migrants have come to Chicago since August of 2022. Late last year the state shut down a city plan to build a large encampment in Brighton Park due to environmental concerns. Mayor Brandon Johnson has asked suburban mayors to help with the housing of migrants.
Cruz also gave the following update on an another former school site in the ward:
“I am proud and excited to share that after a long process of thoughtful consideration, community organizing and collaborative engagement, we have reached an agreement with the developer and attorney to zone the former Saint Wenceslaus School located at 3425 N Lawndale as an RT3.5 with 24 units, 24 parking spaces with no curbcuts and no balconies – plus increased green space. It will also fulfill the 20 percent Affordable Requirement Ordinance (ARO).
“In 2022, a proposal was introduced to bring 36 units. However, it failed to materialize due to community concerns expressed through an impressive organizing effort by the neighbors and community. Then in 2023, a revised proposal was presented to the community, which now included 28 units, including four duplex units; with 18 parking spaces, curbcuts and still no green space.
“When I took office in May 2023, I immediately held many meetings with the community and the developer, and we have finally come to an agreement that is satisfactory to all parties, including the community. This is a huge victory for our ward, showing we do welcome new development, while ensuring community voices are centered in all conversations.
“While I understand this decision took time and was not always easy for the developers either – | want to also thank the developers for their open, transparent communication with my office and their adapting of plans based on community concerns.”
Saint Wenceslaus School closed in the 1990s, and in 2021 the parish merged with the Saint Viator Parish. The building, which measures 59,500 square feet, was built in 1912. The nearby Reilly School, 3650 W. School St., once had a branch inside the building.
Also in the 30th Ward, a new breakfast restaurant is planned for the former Golden Nugget restaurant, 4229 W. Irving Park Road. A Dunkin’ with a drive-through facility was proposed for the site last year, but the project did not materialize.
Golden Nugget closed in 2022. It had been open for about 50 years and was well known for its late-night hours until the pandemic.