A plan to redevelop the Immanuel Lutheran Church at 178 McHenry Ave. into a residential development, while keeping the exterior of the historic building the same, was approved last week by the Crystal Lake City Council.
Developer George Ieremciuc’s plan is to convert the former Faith Lutheran High School and the Immanuel Lutheran buildings into 36 multi-family units, with 28 in the main school building and an additional eight in the other existing buildings.
Now that the City Council has approved the project, Ieremciuc said he can start working with the the city’s building department and work on getting a permit. His goal is start building in April, and finish in the summer or fall of 2020.
Though the Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission voted, 4-2, to reccomend denying Ieremciuc’s requests at a December meeting, the city council approved the redevelopment with a vote of 6-1.
One variation the developer was allowed was changing the density of the apartments from nine dwelling units per acre to 13.8.
A couple residents who came to the meeting said they had concerns over the proposed density and the effect it would have on traffic in the area, as well as how it would change the neighborhood.
Council member Ralph Dawson voted against the redevelopment, saying that although he “totally” supports the outside of the church building staying the same, what the developer is doing by changing the zoning and density of the development bothers him.
Another council member, Haig Haleblian, said the redevelopment will enhance the neighborhood.
“I don’t like this project; I love this project,” Haleblian said. “We’re repurposing very significant buildings; not only are we repurposing them, we’re making them better, we’re making the neighbohood better.”
Ieremciuc said he would reach out to the immediate neighbors who live by the property to address their concerns.
Joe Gottemoller, Ieremciuc’s lawyer for zoning work, said he doesn’t know of another way to save the exterior of the church building without converting it to a new residential use.
Both Ieremciuc and Rev. Larry Tieman of Immanuel Lutheran Church say the sale of the building could finalize as soon as Thursday.
The church’s last official service will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Tieman said.
“We’re calling it a celebration of the building,” said Tieman, who is supportive of Ieremciuc’s plan to redevelop the property.
“It’s a good deal for everyone,” Tieman said. “It still looks ike a church and it will keep the integrity of the neighborhood together.”
After Wednesday, Immanuel Lutheran will continue having services at 300 South Pathway Court, behind Crystal Lake’s Jewel-Osco and Hobby Lobby.
Tieman said selling the church frees up some resources to build a new church at Pathway Court.
“We’re hoping over next couple of years we could get started on that,” Tieman said.