According to the Chicago Tribune, buildings that used to serve as churches and synagogues are being converted into residential buildings - a trend that is being accelerated by falling numbers of the faithful. A recent Gallup poll shows that church membership in the U.S. is way down. The numbers indicate that about 50% of people belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque in 2018, down from close to 70% in the 1990s.

And while former places of worship can be challenging to market and sell, due to size, configuration and importance to parishioners, some developers and home buyers have found ways to turn these majestic, vacant buildings into cozy abodes.

Built in 1922, the former Agudas Achim Synagogue in Uptown stopped operating as a religious institution in 2008 — a decade later, it was renovated and turned into chic residential housing units. Synagogue Flats opened in March, and the apartments are nearly sold out, according to developer Alex Samoylovich, co-founder of Cedar Street Cos., which owns and operates the building. Samoylovich has noticed an increase in the number of former worship places on the market in recent years.

“They have some really great adaptive reuse features,” he said. “We kept a lot of the core characteristics.” This includes architectural details, such as arched windows and stained glass. Synagogue Flats also donated historic artifacts to local preservation and religious groups. The building consists of chic studio and one-bedroom apartments with exposed brick walls, plenty of natural sunlight and state-of-the-art appliances.

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