15 Sep 2014
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Congregation Beth Am Plans Relocation

The Buffalo Grove Park District hopes to purchase the building and convert it into a performing arts center.

Congregation Beth Am Plans Relocation

After 13 years in its building on McHenry Road, is looking for a new home.

It won’t be the first move for Congregation Beth Am, which began in 1979 by gathering in a member’s basement and made stops at and its first own building in Wheeling before opening its doors in Buffalo Grove in 1999.

It will, however, be the first time the congregation’s move is prompted by a decline in funds and membership.

“We find ourselves with the demographics not in our favor, the economy not in our favor and we live in an era in which more than 40% of liberal Jewish families choose to not affiliate with a congregation,” Rabbi Lisa Sari Bellows wrote in a newsletter article titled “Moving Not Closing” that is posted online. “We are, of course, not alone in this struggle. There is not a congregation in the Chicagoland area who is not facing hardships.”

“Guided by our own research, number crunching, debate and discussion, leadership and staff have come to know that we cannot change the facts or reality — as much as we would like to or have tried to do over the last several years. So with strength and courage, the heart-wrenching decision to put our building on the market for sale was made,” she wrote.

The building is listed for sale for an unspecified price. The listing describes the assets as 5.5 acres, a 38,900-square-foot building and 120 parking spots.

The hopes to purchase the building and convert it into a performing arts center that will feature an auditorium, dance studios, classrooms and spaces for other park district programs, according to a plan that to the Village Board. The park district would need a special use permit to proceed with its plans.

Congregation Beth Am would continue to hold services and classes in the building through June 2013, Buffalo Grove Park District Executive Director Dan Schimmel and Director of Recreation and Facilities Ryan Risinger wrote in a letter to Village Manager Dane Bragg.

The park district would iron out its design plans during that time, and begin renovations next summer, they said.

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