The developer planning to turn the historic Immanuel Lutheran Church at 178 McHenry Ave. into a residential redevelopment said he plans on keeping the exterior of the building the same.
At a recent meeting of Crystal Lake’s Planning and Zoning Commission, George Ieremciuc also said he wants to get construction started in summer 2020.
Right now, Ieremciuc’s plan is to convert the former Faith Lutheran High School and the Immanuel Lutheran buildings to multifamily residential properties.
His plan is to have 36 units, with 28 in the main school building and an additional eight in the other existing buildings.
Ieremciuc said he would like the look of the building to stay the same, even if the function of it isn’t.
“I’m a volunteer pastor, and I’d really hate to see the stained glass windows going down, the steeple on the church,” he said. “If I got married in that church, I’d probably want to drive 20 to 30 years later and say, ‘Hey, I got married here.’ ”
Residents who spoke at the commission meeting said they didn’t have an issue with the concept of the property being residential. Several of them, however, said they had issues with the density of the development. The plan the developer currently is proposing would be considered high-density, which people who lived on McHenry Avenue said wouldn’t go well with the rest of the neighborhood.
Commissioner Jeff Greenman shared these concerns about the density of the potential property.
“High density, from my perspective, doesn’t fit with the neighborhood,” he said to Ieremciuc. “The fact that you are planning to keep the buildings the way they are is fabulous. I sincerely appreciate that. I think that adds to the community.”
However, Greenman said that there needs to be a balance of trying to keep the history of the building, but also making sure the property is the right use.
Residents also expressed concerns about the traffic that could be generated.
Regarding the concerns about a high-density area, Ieremciuc said the building is big already.
“The density is not that much over what is permitted, in my opinion,” Ieremciuc said. “It’s a very small portion – we’re not asking [to double] the density or exceeding it by much.”
Commissioner Ian Philpot said he understands residents’ concerns about high density, but he thinks the developer proposed an interesting use for the space.
“I would love to see that historic building stay standing,” he said.
The meeting was to go over the conceptual plan the developer had, and no action was taken on it.
Greenman said that when the developer comes back with more concrete plans, they would go back to the city staff, and then the commission will have a public hearing on it.
Ieremciuc said he will consider city staff’s suggestions and whatever they recommend going forward.
The Rev. Larry Tieman, who announced an agreement was being worked on to sell the church last month, said the building will still be in service through the end of the year.
As previously reported by the Northwest Herald, the church holds services on Saturday evenings for a small group of people, and is expected to hold a Christmas Eve service.
Immanuel Lutheran built a school campus at 300 Pathway Court about 10 years ago, which is where Sunday morning services are held.
Faith Lutheran High School closed in the spring after declining enrollment and financial struggles that plagued it for years.