Willow Creek Community Church is looking to move to a 25-acre near downtown Crystal Lake.

The church is planning a multi-use facility with a 2,000-seat auditorium, indoor play area for kids, and space for classes and workshops. There would also be outdoor recreation activities, including a splash pad, according to concept drawings.Exterior2b

The church project would be at 100 S. Main St., on the site of a 193,000-square-foot former manufacturing building.

“We want to create a community center for the Crystal Lake community, regardless of their affiliation with our church or faith in general,” Don Greetham, Willow Creek’s operations director and stewardship pastor, told the Daily Herald.“There is going to be a significant amount of green space and a park-like atmosphere, as well as classrooms and workshops.”

If approved by the Crystal Lake City Council, the new Willow Creek facility would replace its existing 56,000-square-foot building at 220 Exchange Drive, where the church has been for the past 12 years.

According to Greetham, the church has spent the past few years learning the needs of the area and trying to ensure that the new facility addresses those needs.

Willow Creek has a $7.5 million contract pending to purchase the Main Street land. Officials say the first phase of the project would be the new auditorium and a renovated atrium at a cost between $6 million and $8 million. That work is scheduled for completion in Fall 2017.

The second phase, pegged for three years after Phase I, would include enhanced student and children’s ministry spaces, as well as a family/community engagement center and adult ministry space.

Rev. Marcus Bieschke, the Crystal Lake church’s lead pastor, told Crystal Lake City Council members that about 1,200 people attend Sunday morning services at the church. He said the congregation is getting too big for the existing church building.

“Overcrowded parking lots, seating, children’s and student ministry spaces, bathrooms and hallways are creating ever-increasing pressure that hinders a fantastic experience for our guests and congregation and hamper our effectiveness in the community,” Bieschke said.

Church leaders say the move would also increase Willow Creek Crystal Lake’s visibility. The exiting church is on a dead-end street in a business park. The new church would be located just blocks from downtown Crystal Lake and a Metra station.

Greetham said church leaders have already met with members of the Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council regarding their proposal. He said formal submission of the Willow Creek plan is expected to take place in the next few weeks.

Information about the Willow Creek Crystal Lake plan can be found at



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