While touring the West Side with a group of BRO interns this past weekend, we stopped by the ‘ruins’ of Saint Mary’s on the Hill. While it was sad to see the condition of the site on such a glorious spring day, a couple of us also felt that the site was inspirational and could be put to good use. That’s not the first time that I have heard those sentiments. As of late, there have been a bunch of different ideas bandied about regarding the future of the West Side corner.
If the walls of the church can be braced, and the ownership of the property is somehow wrestled from the current property owner, maybe the walls of the building could act as a shelter for gardens, music and a variety of other summer uses and activities that would contribute to the neighborhood rather than detract from it. I’m sure that Grassroots Gardens would be invaluable when it comes to possible uses. Get ReUSe and PUSH involved… even the future organic market residents at the Horsefeathers building (just down the way). This could be a real opportunity to take a problematic issue and turn it around.
I am under the impression that the Guild Hall is still in good shape. Couldn’t that be sold off to raise money for stabilization of the church walls in anticipation for a community space? If this were to happen it would mean the addition of residential along with a very unique West Side destination. Something like this could only happen if the property could be transferred to a caretaker with a vision. As Tim Tielman told me, “Nothing is going to happen if The City does not begin proceedings to take over the building. They could easily do it since the out-of-city property owner is in arrears for trash pick-up and water bills. If The City does not force the hand of the delinquent owner, then you will never find a developer to even look at the project.”