Eastside Property: Highland Park church awaits a real estate conversion*

Jul 11, 2013

Former Church of Christ on York./Martha Benedict

It’s been quite a while since the Church of Christ in Highland Park has hosted a religious service. The century-old building in the 4900 block of York Boulevard is fenced off; the exterior is water stained and the dated green carpet covers the floor of the main sanctuary. But the century old building retains an imposing albeit neglected presence on a mostly residential stretch of York, where it’s tower and peaked roof rise above the surrounding bungalows.  Now, under new owners, the old church is poised to start a new life but not as a place of worship.

The 6,600-square foot building is being as a possible retail, restaurant or “Creative/Loft” space, according to a LoopNet Listing.  One person who was on the church said the place needs a lot work but could be used as a music venue or other uses. He said it had not been used as a church for several years.

But one possible hurdle facing any conversion of this property into a restaurant, retail or other use is that it lacks any off-street parking, as noted in the listing.

Still, the property is located a short walk from the new stores and cafes that have popped up along York in recent years. Says the listing:

Endless possibilities in this massive, lofty, character space. Let your imagination run wild – C4 zoning. Owners are local and creative.

In addition to having faith in the ongoing revival of York Boulevard, anyone who takes over the former Church of Christ will have to have a lot of cash. The church is being leased at an asking rate of $9,000 a month.

* Update: Music publicist Graeme Flegenheimer is negotiating to lease the church and turn the building into a venue for live music and films as well space for a restaurant. Flegenheimer, who lives four blocks from the church,  provided more details about his project and challenges ahead:

This space is so special. It has the potential to boast a 500 cap upstairs for live music & limited run films / premieres. The downstairs venue, a smaller space, for 200 cap. We are aiming to have a restaurant as well in the space. The biggest hurdle is going to be get attaining the change of use permit & live music permit. We have a parking lot four blocks away… However, I really believe in NELA. Certainly think that this venue could be the first place to socialize, see some great art & cinema. I’ve had a passion for cinema & music since a young age and I really want to build a space that allows people to see all forms of music & all types film. Something enriching. Not a nightclub or your typical. Art is what I choose to worship. What’s a better spot to worship than a Church?

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