Church wants to be Burr Ridge landmark
Young boys lead a procession of older deacons during a Christmas Eve Liturgy. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 11, 2013 2:21AM
BURR RIDGE — The people of St. Mark want a bigger church, not just for themselves, but for the community.
“We are quite interested in being friends to the community, to our neighbors,” said Refaat Abdel Malek, leader of the engineering committee, one of several committees formed to facilitate an anticipated $8 million expansion project at the Coptic Orthodox church on 79th Street.
The church has grown in its number of families since the worship area and gymnasium were built in 1980. Now, Malek said, it is time for the building to grow, as well.
Early plans call for the existing building to remain untouched while a second, larger worship space and multipurpose area are added. The new space, which will be built congruent to the existing building, will provide a new worship area for 600, larger Sunday school rooms, crying rooms and a space designated for young adults, among other things.
Improvements are planned for the outside, too. The church hopes to add parking, plenty of landscaping and an outdoor recreation area to its 9.5-acre property.
Many parts of the building, including the outside recreation area, will be available to the public. He said the existing building is frequently used by community groups and even private parties for meetings and gatherings. The larger facility will provide even more room for such events.
“We would like to share with them some of the plans we have,” Malek said.
The church plans to do so at a yet-to-be-scheduled open house.
Doug Pollock, Burr Ridge’s director of Economic Development, said any plans will have to come before the Plan Commission for approval.
“A religious institution is a special use and the expansion of a special use requires a public hearing,” Pollock said.
No formal plans have been presented to the village, but Malek, a resident of Burr Ridge, said he does not anticipate the need for any variations not already approved when the church was built in 1980. At that time, he said, a height variance was needed to allow for the church’s dome. The addition, he said, will be no higher than the existing structure.
Church member Mary Alexander Basta is heading up efforts to raise the $8 million needed for the project, much of which Malek said will come from the congregation itself.
Basta is working on preliminary plans that could include a spring gala.
If all goes as planned, the church hopes to start construction in spring 2014. When complete the church campus will stand as a landmark for the community, Malek said.
“Burr Ridge will be very proud.”