Troubled bar sold to church

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A Warren bar where a 25-year-old man was fatally shot during a New Year’s Day party and later deemed a nuisance by the city has been sold to a pastor.

Pastor Doug Garasic of the Movement Church said he bought the former Sunset Lounge at the corner of Elm Road and East Market Street.

On Monday, a sign outside the building read: “Sold. Thank God Change is Coming.”

Garasic said they will use the building to expand from its Niles site in the Eastwood Mall into Warren.

Garasic, who said approximately 800 people attend his services in Niles, expects about 200 or 300 at their opening day for the church on Oct. 27.

“It’s a fun atmosphere,” Garasic said. “You come as you are. We are very casual. We believe God wants to reach the person. He doesn’t care how you look or where you have been. He simply wants you.”

Building owner and liquor permit holder Joe Sankey Jr. voluntarily closed the bar a few days after the murder as part of an agreement with the city, which had been trying to have the bar’s liquor license renewal blocked. The agreement also held off an effort by the city from seeking a nuisance action against the bar.

The Movement Church has been based at the Eastwood Mall in Niles.

Cory Blackwell, 25, was killed in the bar shooting that closed the Sunset down a few hours into 2013.

“We also believe that when we saw this place, what happened, the murder last New Year’s, we thought, man what an opportunity for God to show up in a really big way and to change something that was known for tragedy and make it a triumph,” Garasic said.

City officials said they are happy to have new tenants in the downtown district.

“We are all pleased that from one activity that saw a lot of problems and crime and violence is now going to be Gods work,” Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said. “So we are very pleased.”

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