CHICAGO (CBS) — A piece of property in the Grand Crossing community has been vacant for a long time, but now, it has a new purpose that is poised to serve the community in more ways than one.

CBS 2’s Marissa Parra on Thursday explained the mission behind “The Temple.”

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“The Temple” boasts nearly 4,000 seats inside, which it hopes will also boost the local economy in Grand Crossing.

“I want to see dance come here, musicals, plays, jazz brought here,” said Pastor John Hannah, who added his personal choice is gospel.

“So we call it a ‘Thurch’ – it’s a theatre and a church,” Hannah said.

 

It’s been a long time coming. Over the last 14 years, New Life Covenant Church Southeast has had several homes.

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“We had to move around,” Hannah said. “We were renting facilities; Hayes Center, King High School, UIC Pavilion.”

And then, he set his sights on 77th and Greenwood.

“This community was first known as the “dead zone” (because) there were no businesses fighting to get over here,” Hannah said. “I was told that what we wanted to build we could never build.”

Nearly 200 jobs were lost when the iconic Sears shut down on East 79th Street in Grand Crossing in 2013. So to be able to bring back both more jobs and new hope is what he calls the biggest blessing.

“Normally you have to go to the suburbs or downtown to see something of this magnitude,” Hannah said. “I’m born and raised in this city. I love this city. I love that I get to raise the bar when it comes to this city.”

Click here for more information on the celebrations of the new opening as they continue Wednesday night and Thursday at 77th and Greenwood.

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