OAK CREEK - The Ridge Community Church has been given final approval to open a location at the property occupied by Value Cinema.
Value Cinema in Oak Creek will close May 21 after the evening showtimes, Marcus Theatres announced in a news release May 18, with the sale of the property to Ridge Community Church expected to be complete at the end of the month.
At its May 16 meeting, the Oak Creek Common Council approved a request to rezone the properties at 6912 and 6912R S. 27th St. (the current site of Value Cinema) and granted a conditional-use permit for a religious institution.
With the final approval from the council, the next steps for the church will include design approval from the city for the property's renovation.
The Ridge intends to remodel the building and use it as a second location for services, according to a news release from Marcus Theatres. (The Ridge's first location is in Greenfield, in a portion of a former Walmart building at 4500 S. 108th St.)
Several church-goers and Ridge Community Church Lead Pastor Pastor Mark Weigt attended the May 16 meeting.
"We know that it’s a sacrifice on your part to have us here … and we hope the benefit of having us here will outweigh the sacrifice,” Weigt said at the May 16 meeting.
Weigt also stated that the church desires to "make it a building that doesn’t look like a church building," with the new location fitting in with its surroundings as a desirable property to sell, should the church ever vacate it.
Weigt also cited The Ridge's emphasis on giving back to the community — the church's Greenfield location hosts a prom for people with special needs. The church also emphasizes volunteerism and, specifically, wants to help under-resourced schools, according to Weigt.
During the common council meeting, Oak Creek resident Edward Lisowski raised the question of whether the city would lose tax revenue from the property's sale, since the church would be a tax-exempt organization.
Oak Creek Mayor Dan Bukiewicz pointed out that The Ridge would have to make a decision to file for tax exemption. Bukiewicz also said that the city cannot discriminate against The Ridge on the basis of it being a church, and added that “from a faith standpoint, we all need somewhere to go.”
Additionally, other aldermen pointed out the benefit of faith institutions in a community.
Alderman Chris Guzikowski, who said he visited the Ridge's Greenfield location, was "pleasantly surprised at the services and how (the church gives) back to the community."
Alderman Richard Duchniak agreed.
"As many faith-based organizations do, they’re going to strengthen our community and make our city a better place," Duchniak said.
Marcus Theatres announced the sale of the Value Cinema property in November 2016. The Ridge presented its offer to purchase the location in fall 2016.
Value Cinema offered a special promotion for its last weekend of operation May 19-21: $1 movies.
All 21 associates at the Value Oak Creek Cinema will be offered jobs at other Marcus Theatres locations, the company said.