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Approved Elim Romanian Church Plan Includes Extra Driveway, New Design

By Alex Nitkin | October 23, 2017 11:43am
 An updated rendering of Elim Romanian Pentasostal Church, which scored approval from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals Friday.
An updated rendering of Elim Romanian Pentasostal Church, which scored approval from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals Friday.
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A+C Architects

CHICAGO  — Developers scored final permission Friday to build a three-story, 55,000-square-foot church at the site of Monastero's Ristorante & Banquets, 3935 Devon Ave., setting the stage for the decades-old restaurant to be razed early next year.

The city's Zoning Board of Appeals voted to grant a special-use permit for the Elim Romanian Pentasostal Church to operate in an area zoned for business. The Albany Park church would relocate to Sauganash, where many of its congregants already live, once the new building opens in 2019.

The space would include 10 classrooms and a sanctuary large enough for nearly 1,000 congregants, plus a 169 space parking lot.

The church has also acquired adjacent M&M Landscaping, just east of Monastero's, with plans to use the space for parking.

The Monastero family announced in April that they'd accepted an offer from the church, ending their 55 year run in Sauganash. The restaurant will serve its last customer on Nov. 18, they said.

The Rev. Cristian Ionescu, the church's head pastor, went public in June with plans for a new building, with more than three times the floor space and twice the parking area as the current site.

The original plan would have funneled cars into the parking lot through two public alleys, a set-up some neighbors predicted would back up traffic on Devon. In response, the church agreed to add another driveway onto the property, according to Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th).

"They've addressed our concerns," Laurino said Friday.

The project's architect released new renderings showing a sloping glass wall facing the street.