Future of St. Mary’s remains unknown
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org October 30, 2013 5:34PM
St. Mary Carmelite Church, built in downtown Joliet in 1882, is a city landmark. But a plan to preserve the church structure by converting it to senior apartments has stalled. | Bob Okon~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2013 12:11PM
A bid was made on the old St. Mary Carmelite Church building at an auction last week, a Joliet city official said Wednesday.
But the future of the closed church is not known.
Building owner Scott Henry has not returned calls to comment on the auction and what will happen next with the church, which he had previously planned to convert to senior apartments.
Alfredo Melesio, neighborhoods services director for the city of Joliet, said he had talked with Henry about the auction and was told a bid was made.
“A church put in a bid,” Melesio said.
However, Melesio referred questions about the bid and the likelihood of a sale to Henry.
Henry had been seeking a minimum bid of $278,000, which, he said, was aimed at covering his expenses so far, including drawing up plans for the renovation project and seeking government incentives to attract investors.
He said in September that he would continue with his plan to renovate the church if he was unable to sell it. The project had stalled as Henry was unable to get the federal tax credits he would use to attract investment. The price of the project was estimated at $10 million.
Henry acquired the church in March 2012 from the Diocese of Joliet, which essentially donated the building after being unable to find a buyer.
Henry is a Chicago-area real estate developer whose company is named Celadon Holdings.
The church, a limestone structure built in 1882, is a prominent part of the downtown skyline and was the second parish established in Joliet. The city had approved a special use permit allowing 40 apartments, but Henry had let that permit lapse.
The permit has been challenged in Will County Circuit Court by the law firm Kavanagh, Grumley & Gorbold, which has offices next door and contends the city violated its density rules by permitting 40 apartments for the church building.