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Work is expected to begin this spring on the former Trinity Lutheran church, which will be outfitted with solar panels, a community garden and rainwater recycling systems.

LAKEWOOD

An estimated $3 million renovation to the former Trinity Lutheran Church on Detroit Avenue will begin soon.

The city’s Architectural Review Board is expected to give its final approval to the project during a review meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday. Scalish Construction of Lakewood is doing the work, which involves making the 22,000-square-foot building conducive to mixed-use development.

“These buildings have so many stories to tell. If we tear them down, they will be lost to history,” developer Frank Scalish said. “Nothing like it will ever be built again. It’s a work of art and we are looking forward to preserving it.”

If approved, work is expected to begin this spring and is estimated to be completed in 2022, Scalish said.

Work on the 98-year-old building includes revamping worship and school space into office space with eight apartments located in the back of the church. Plans also include building storefronts in a vacant 4,300-square-foot building adjacent to the church, Lakewood Planning Director Shawn Leininger said.

The building is vacant, its bright orange and red bricks looming over the area. In front, a sign with “Trinity Lutheran Church” remains, welcoming pedestrians as they walk by.

“This project is consistent with our community vision of bringing in more residential and commercial retail space,” Leininger said. Officials also are excited that the new development will be built with TRUE certification, a zero-waste goal by cutting the carbon footprint of construction.

Work began in 2019 when the city, which purchased the lot in 2018 for $625,000, put out a request for qualification. After an extensive search, it selected Scalish Construction to renovate the church.

However, preserving the structure wasn’t always part of the plan. The property was almost torn down to make way for a new fast food restaurant, though it’s not clear which one. Wendy’s had shown interest. Those plans were scrapped after the community rallied around the building and urged the city to find a contractor who would preserve it.

Lakewood purchased the lot after it was deconsecrated the same year. The building was abandoned after its congregation, which built the church in 1922, moved to a new building on West Clifton Boulevard in 2017.

Mayor Meghan George is pleased that the city has preserved another slice of Lakewood’s history.

“Historic preservation has always been very important to me,” she said. “I want to make sure that our history is saved so that people for generations to come can see these structures.

Contact this reporter at akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 216-307-6614.

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