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Local Developer Saves Historic Indiana Church from Destruction

Typically, commercial properties are easy to manage, with only three to five minor issues per year. However, one building has been the subject of a dramatic twist of events.

The fate of St. John’s United Church of Christ remained unclear until recently. After much deliberation, a local building developer has agreed to take on a project to save the historic church.

The church’s last service was in October 2015, nearly one year ago, after a dramatic decrease in membership. Luckily, the building will not be destroyed, as once thought. Instead, it will be converted into affordable housing for senior citizens.

In early 2015, Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based grocery store, was in the process of buying the land, only to demolish the church and build a gas station and convenience store.

Citizens and officials of Cumberland and nearby Indianapolis appealed in order to save the church, which was founded in 1855 to serve local German immigrants who were farmers in the area. At the time of its opening, the church was known as “Deutsche Evangelische St. Johannes Kirche.” The original church was replaced in 1914, and has stood ever since.

Eventually, Cumberland and Indianapolis officials gained enough support, and Giant Eagle retracted its offer, cancelling its plans to build. Although the congregation’s leaders said that the building needed upwards of $750,000 in repairs, locals though that it was possible to sell the land while also preserving the 100-year-old church.

Indianapolis-based TWG Developments LLC specializes in affordable housing for seniors in the Midwest. The company is experienced in revitalizing and preserving the integrity of older, historic structures using tax-exempt bonds, and working with local cities and towns, state agencies, and non-profit organizations. The company is planning to create 60 income-based apartment units for seniors, as well as some retail space.

The real estate developer will continue the project, as long as they are granted affordable housing tax credits to renovate the church.

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