New performing arts center to replace synagogue in Buffalo Grove
Updated: August 21, 2012 6:07PM
One of Buffalo Grove’s most prominent religious institutions will be moving next year, and a performing arts center will take up residence in its building.
Congregation Beth Am, 225 N. McHenry Road, is selling its property to the Buffalo Grove Park District, which announced plans to renovate the building for its stage shows.
In a statement posted to the Beth Am website, Rabbi Lisa Sari Bellows reminded the Beth Am community that the congregation has changed locations before, and because of economic restrictions, must do so again.
“We cannot afford our beautiful building,” she wrote. “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.”
Dan Schimmel, the Park District’s executive director, told the Village Board during the Aug. 6 meeting that Beth Am will remain in the building until June 30, and will use the sanctuary for next year’s Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services.
Part of the district’s proposed renovations include turning that sanctuary into an auditorium. Schimmel said the district will need to raise the roof “much higher,” though the exterior roof line will not change.
Ted Haug, who is in charge of design for Legat Architects, told the Village Board that changes to the facade also are probable.
Haug said the property currently has 132 parking spots, but a performing arts center would require between 170 and 250. A larger parking lot will mandate additional storm water retention measures, he noted.
When finished, the auditorium is planned to seat 500, Schimmel reported. The district currently puts on small shows at its Alcott Center, and larger productions are held at Stevenson High School.
Before the proposal was discussed, Village Trustee Steven Trilling noted that he is a Beth Am member, and Trustee Mike Terson noted that he is the spokesman for the park district.
Founded in 1979, Beth Am operated a few years in the Kingswood United Methodist Church before finding its own facility at Jenkins Court. In 1999, the congregation moved to its current location.
“There are some of us here today that remember when we walked with the Torahs from the Jenkins Court space to 225 North McHenry Road,” Bellows wrote. “It was a day of great joy. We knew that in order for us to be the best Beth Am we could be, a move was necessary.”