Religious group reveals it has purchased South Barrington land for new church, school

The religious group behind a controversial plan to purchase and develop publicly owned land in South Barrington last year came forward Friday as the party that won the bid at a second auction for the property last month.

Schaumburg-based Fourth Avenue Gospel, which is owned and operated by a suburban congregation of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, already has closed a $2.3 million deal with the South Barrington Park District and owns the land, congregation member Russell McAbery revealed. The closing was March 7, a little more than a week after the Feb. 28 auction.

McAbery said a house of worship and a school are planned for the property at Bartlett Road and Route 59. That was the plan last year, too.

The South Barrington Park District has sold 34 acres of undeveloped land sometimes called “Area N” to a religious group, a representative of the group revealed Friday. A church and school are planned. Courtesy of South Barrington

The new church will be a branch of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and will have about 200 members who currently gather at other Plymouth Brethren facilities. The school will operate under Plymouth Brethren’s OneSchool Global banner.

About 25 students from the congregation, from third- to 12th-graders, are expected to enroll at the school, according to, a website created by the local church that has information about the plans. Educational areas, a gym, a kitchen and a school store are part of the plans.

Fourth Avenue Gospel initially intended to buy the land last year for about $1.7 million. It was the only bidder in an auction then.

Dozens of area residents — many from the nearby Woods of South Barrington subdivision — protested the initial land sale last year once the church was publicly identified as the would-be buyer. In interviews and public comments, opponents cited traffic, the proposed use of the land and some of the Plymouth Brethren's practices among their concerns.

Ultimately, the park district board voted to terminate the sale and hold a new auction.

There were two bidders at the Feb. 28 auction. The park district board approved the sale of the property to Area N Development that night.

In the days that followed, park district officials insisted they didn’t know who was behind Area N Development. Neither Park District Executive Director Jay Morgan nor board President Pete Perisin could be reached for comment Friday.

The Area N Development company was set up solely to purchase this property, McAbery said. Fourth Avenue Gospel owns the Plymouth Brethren properties in Schaumburg, Roselle and Northlake, he added.

Congregation members waited to identify their group as the winning bidder for Area N until after the sale closed, McAbery said.

They now will work with South Barrington officials on zoning matters, he said.

McAbery said church members have adjusted their plans for the campus based on some of the concerns raised by residents. For example, a proposed access point at Acadia Drive on the south side of the property was eliminated from the plan, he said.

The property will be accessible from Bartlett Road and Route 59, plans indicate.

More trees and shrubs have been added to the plan, too.

“We’ve listened to the neighbors,” McAbery said. “I think we’ll be a good asset to the South Barrington community.”

McAbery hopes construction will begin later this year and conclude by late 2025.

  The South Barrington Park District has sold 34 acres of undeveloped land at Bartlett Road and Route 59 to a religious group that intends to build a church and school. John Starks/, 2023

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