Agreement: Evangel to buy former ShopKo building

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Evangel Church in Houghton plans to move from its College Avenue location, seen above, to the former ShopKo building.

HOUGHTON — The former ShopKo building in Houghton will have a new tenant.

Evangel Church in Houghton approved the purchase of the building Sunday.

The church has been looking at alternatives to its building on College Avenue for a couple of years, said Levi Matteson, Evangel’s lead pastor. Before ShopKo closed in May, the church had considered either expanding on its property or building a new church at another site.

“We don’t really need another new building in Houghton, and there’s a chance of just having a big empty building for a very long time,” Matteson said. “So we just decided that that would make a better fit for both the good of the community and also the good of us.”

Evangel would move into half the space in the fall, with renovations finished around Easter.

Evangel has about 11,000 square feet on College Avenue. It will look to take about 35,000 to 40,000 square feet of the 75,000-square-foot ShopKo building. For the rest, Evangel is looking to partner with other community groups.

Some have already expressed interest with Evangel about using the space, Matteson said.

“We’re looking at that right now and trying to figure some of that out and what that will look like,” he said.

The church has been talking with city officials to make sure no retail businesses had wanted the space. Had that been the case, the church would have rescinded its offer, it said in a release.

A church team had been looking at property for a while, Matteson said. The elders of the church, which include Matteson, made a recommendation to the congregation, which affirmed it Sunday. The church has a signed agreement, with a closing date of Sept. 27.

Evangel also has signed agreements for its College Avenue buildings. Matteson was not sure what the future use of those properties would be.

Evangel plans to set up a temporary worship center in part of the building while another undergoes renovations. It will continue to run nursery care and Sunday school classes.

The new facility will also have a carpeted area for its Awana Kids Club, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Chinese fellowship programs.

The church will also run a shuttle bus to the new church for Michigan Technological University students.

The congregation has about 400 members, Matteson said. Once Tech students return, it has three Sunday services.

That will probably drop — but only to two, Matteson said.

“We don’t want it to be just this big, cavernous space,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re building community and connecting with each other.”