WIN: Former Church to Be Repurposed as Latino Community Center

“For years, the team behind a Latino community center and education arts program in Logan Square wanted to reach more youth. Now, they can finally get to work. After more than two decades in Logan Square and Humboldt Park, The Miracle Center bought a 66,000-square-foot church campus at 5454 W. Diversey Ave. in Belmont Cragin for $1.5 million. The move will give the nonprofit the space it needs to expand its services.

“The campus was formerly home to the St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. The Miracle Center is planning a $3-4 million renovation, transforming the campus into a community center with three theaters, a wellness center, work/live spaces for artists, a fitness room and a dance hall, said Vanessa Torres, communications director at The Miracle Center.

“For the past nine years, The Miracle Center was at 2311 N. Pulaski Road in Logan Square. Its 11,400-square-foot space was bulging at the seams, Torres said. The nonprofit planned to purchase an adjacent property in early 2020, but it didn’t work out. The old Belmont Cragin church turned out to be a better fit. ‘What is so great about it is the aesthetics,’ she said. ‘We are going to keep the character of it. The acoustics are phenomenal.’

“In addition to hosting after-school programs and performances for students interested in theater, music, dance, podcasting and cooking, the center will be a gathering space for the community, working with nearby schools and institutions to host classes and events. The church campus’ four kitchens will be renovated and the largest one will house a workforce development cooking program. It also has 28 multipurpose rooms, five pianos, and will add a production center and a cafe.

“The massive renovation will be completed in phases as the organization receives funding. The team hopes to fully open the center by fall 2022 but will resume in-person programs at the beginning of 2022. The Miracle Center is working with longtime supporters like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Family Fund, the Hispanic Federation, The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, GOYA Foods, Walmart and others to secure funding for its renovation work.

“Since The Miracle Center’s founding 26 years ago by Executive Director Mary Santana, it has served more than 20,000 students with a 94 percent high school graduation rate, produced and presented more than 50 professional-quality productions and hosted more than 35,000 audience members. The center’s work was the focus of a documentary in 2019. (Parrella-Aureli, Block Club Chicago, 10/18/21)

Read the full story with many photos at Block Club Chicago

Latino Arts Nonprofit The Miracle Center Finds New Home In Old Belmont Cragin Church, Plans To Expand Services: After serving 20,000 kids over two decades in Logan Square and Humboldt Park, The Miracle Center is renovating an old church so it can offer more programs, Ariel Parrella-Aureli, Block Club Chicago, 10/18/21

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