Growing Grayslake church plans to call longtime Lake Villa library building home
A building that had become too small for the Lake Villa District Library will more than triple the space for a growing church in Grayslake.
Library officials last week approved a contract to sell its longtime former home at 1001 E. Grand Ave. to Grace Community Bible Church, which has been located in a strip mall off Center Street for 10 years. The contract is for $1.25 million with a closing scheduled for Sept. 30.
"It's an exciting time," Pastor Mike Bryant said.
He said the congregation has outgrown its 10,000-square-foot space and has been looking for opportunities.
"I think people will be surprised to see how their former library is being used in a positive way for a church," Bryant said.
A Lindenhurst resident, Bryant had been in the building south of Grand Avenue and Deep Lake Road many times as a library patron.
The library has been trying to sell its old home and property since October 2019. But the market folded due to COVID-19 and there were no takers despite substantial cuts in the original $2.99 million asking price.
"We generated a decent amount of interest in the building but lost most of it during the pandemic," said Robert E. Frank, who had the listing for the property.
"Any potential retail, office, restaurant, health club or investor interest evaporated due to the pandemic," he added. "Any opportunity for this to become a community center was lost as well."
According to Frank, another church made an offer in early 2020, but that pastor was stricken by COVID-19 and the deal fell apart.
Library officials in May opted to put the building up for public bid. Grace Community was the lone offer in the process.
The church bid $1.1 million, which was negotiated to $1.25 million, according to Library Director Mikael Jacobsen.
"It's been nearly two years," he said. "We were hoping to get it sold."
Frank said the library had hoped for a higher sales price, but market conditions worked against that.
Bryant said the church's relationship with the community and library is important and the sale price is fair.
The 40-year old, 34,162-square-foot building features a two-story vaulted atrium and large windows with a view of wetlands to the south.
It was listed for sale in October 2019 after the library moved into a new $18 million facility about a mile away at 140 N. Munn Road in Lindenhurst.
According to Bryant, the church was founded in 2007 with about 35 people. The church has rented suites in the shopping center at 15 Commerce Drive in Grayslake since 2011 and the congregation has grown to about 250 to 300.
Bryant said he has looked at many places as a potential new home but hadn't considered the former library.
"Until they put it on the market, we never thought about it as a church," he said. "We were talking with them a long time. It took awhile."
Frank said the sealed bid process began after negotiations with Grace Community began. He said another nonprofit entity was interested but couldn't meet the bid deadline.
The sale is contingent on the church securing financing and receiving a conditional use from Lake Villa to use the building as a church.