How the Des Plaines Park District reached deal to turn former church into a restaurant

A former church that's now owned by the Des Plaines Park District will be transformed into a restaurant in a public-private partnership.

The building once known as Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1177 Howard Ave., will undergo the culinary conversion. It's in Lake Park on the northern shore of Lake Opeka.

To be known as Foxtail on the Lake, the restaurant will be a sister to the Foxtail, a Downers Grove eatery.

Park District Executive Director Don Miletic said the new Foxtail will provide "a modern restaurant experience with quality food and drinks."

The restaurant will occupy most of the 19,500-square-foot building's ground floor.

The park district will operate programs and events on the lower level, Miletic said. It also will retain two meeting spaces on the ground floor.

Construction could begin next month. A 2023 opening is expected.

The park district bought the 3.3-acre church property last year for $1.4 million and renamed the building the Lakeview Center. Its acquisition erased the geographical separation between Lake Park and the Lake Park Golf Course and Marina.

Making the building available for banquets and event rentals was a plan from the start. But as Miletic noted, the park district isn't in the restaurant business.

So, officials struck a licensing deal with the folks behind the Foxtail in November. The restaurant will pay the district a percentage of its revenue to use the space.

On-site catering for events will be available, too.

The restaurateurs are footing the bill for the renovation, which is expected to cost more than $4 million, Miletic said. A new kitchen and a large deck overlooking the lake are among the planned changes.

"It's going to be a gorgeous place," Miletic said.

The park district will provide deck lighting and a concrete pad for outdoor space rentals, documents indicate. It's also taking care of some interior and exterior renovations, such as window replacements, new interior sprinklers and the installation of a new heating and air conditioning system.

"We would have had to do this anyway," Miletic said.

A state grant will cover the roughly $1.5 million price tag for park district's portion of the renovation, Miletic said.

Construction could take between six and eight months, Miletic said. Permits are awaiting approval at city hall.

The restaurant will be the latest in a slew of public attractions at Lake Opeka. In addition to the golf course and marina, it has an entertainment pavilion, picnic shelters and memorials to military veterans from Des Plaines and the victims of the 1979 Flight 191 disaster.

Des Plaines Park District to buy church land adjoining Lake Park complex

A former church building at Lake Park that's now owned by the Des Plaines Park District will be turned into a privately run restaurant. Courtesy of Des Plaines Park District
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