For leaders of St. Nikola’s Serbian Orthodox Church in Brookfield, it turns out having the archdiocese’s cold shoulder when buying the St. Barbara’s Church campus was a blessing disguised.
While this would have served the growing Serbian congregation well from a facilities perspective, it appears they have landed a more suitable and entirely confined property at 43rd Street and Avenue Joliet in Lyon – the recently decommissioned property. of St. Hugh’s Parish – for their future growth.
Until about a year ago, St. Nikola officials seemed ready for a long-term commitment to Brookfield. They had submitted and won village approval for a plan to build a new church on their property south of Brookfield – which over the past decade has grown to include four adjoining single-family homes. All lands were possessed free and quits.
But the payback on the cost of constructing such an edifice – with no guarantees from the village about what it could do to convert the existing buildings to other uses, such as a school – has apparently shifted their gears.
They thought they had found the “future,” as the church council president called it last August, in the form of St. Barbara Parish, which included a church, school building, social hall, rectory and a convent that could be used to house those seeking transitional accommodation as they immigrated here from Serbia.
However, the archdiocese was not prepared to sell St. Barb’s lock, stock, and barrel. But the archdiocese happened to have about 2.5 acres of parish real estate nearby. After denying St. Nikola to Brookfield last November, it took just four months to close the deal on St. Hugh.
Closer to home, the sale of St. Hugh has some potential local benefits. First, a good portion of the proceeds from the sale will go to St. Paul VI Parish, the entity created last year with the merger of St. Hugh with St. Mary in Riverside and Mater Christi in North Riverside. This is a godsend for a suburban Catholic parish, and they will be happy to integrate into their various ministries.
Renovating the St. Hugh buildings will be no small task for St. Nikola officials, who apparently would like to open a school and operate other programs in the parish buildings, which include a gymnasium and social hall. The Old Presbytery will also be the subject of an ongoing maintenance project.
We assume (as the chairman of the church council told us last summer) that the purchase of the new land will mean the sale of the Brookfield property. This presents a real opportunity for Brookfield to put these parcels of land back on the tax rolls.
This is a very well located corner site in an otherwise completely residential area next to a park and school. Residential real estate developers will salivate at the prospect.
You don’t get many opportunities like that in a built-up suburb of Chicago.