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Old Trinity Lutheran Church deemed structurally sound
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Old Trinity Lutheran Church deemed structurally sound

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Now that the former Trinity Lutheran Church was deemed structurally sound in November, the 1886 Church Foundation Corp. is ramping up revitalization efforts. 

CROWN POINT— After 135 years and one devastating fire, the former Trinity Lutheran Church has been deemed structurally sound.

During a Wednesday meeting, the Crown Point Board of Public Works and Safety heard from Dave Bryan, vice president of the 1886 Church Foundation Corp., the nonprofit that owns the church. Bryan said that after some delay, the church foundation was able to get a structural engineer to assess the building Nov. 9. After examining the church for about two hours, Bryan said, the engineer found some minor issues but determined that overall the building was structurally sound. 

Now that the building has been deemed structurally sound, City Attorney Alex Kutanovski said the church foundation can continue with restoration, without giving the city regular updates. 

"As long as they're compliant with city codes, no further action is necessary on the city's end," Kutanovski said. 

Trinity Lutheran Church, 400 E. North St., was originally built in 1886. In 1978 the building was sold and converted to apartments. The church functioned as an apartment building until 2018 when a fire shut the former church down entirely. The church foundation acquired the property in 2019 and has been working to restore it ever since.

Concerns were raised last spring when a property inspection report completed by the city's building inspector, Brad Wentz, showed the building was in violation of various city and state ordinances.

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The old Trinity Lutheran Church in Crown Point, most recently an apartment building, is now owned by a nonprofit hoping to restore it.

The church foundation has been working on emptying the building and improving the exterior, Bryan said. Now that the building has been evaluated by a structural engineer, Bryan said the church foundation plans to ramp-up efforts and pursue more grants. 

"The first thing we'd like to do is get a roof on it because the roof is in bad shape and is leaking," Bryan said. 

The church foundation has also "done a better job" keeping neighbors updated on the project's progress, Bryan said. Crown Point Mayor David Uran said he supported the ongoing revitalization efforts. 

"You guys have made tremendous strides on the appearance of the outside of the building," Uran said. "We're happy with the fact that you guys are going to move forward to continue with the best of your ability to add to the value of that neighborhood."

During the Wednesday meeting the board also approved formal outdoor seating and retail standards for businesses on the Crown Point square. According to the new standards, businesses would have to get their design and layout approved by the Board of Works every year, Anthony Schlueter of the planning department said.

A new certificate of approval will have to be obtained after any changes to design or layout. The approval process will include a presentation to the Board of Works, submitting a site plan and proof of liability and a site visit. Once a business receives the initial certificate, if the design does not change, the Board of Works will just inspect the site yearly. 

Schlueter said the standards "will ensure adequate ADA required spacing and accessibility for all pedestrians in the public right of way as well as promote outdoor dining." 

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The 1886 Church Foundation Corp. is now looking to replace the roof on the old Trinity Lutheran Church, 400 E. North St., in Crown Point.

The standards will create uniformity for downtown businesses Uran said. 

"This document is not meant to impede or create roadblocks for outdoor dining, it is just to have consistency," Uran said. 

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