Southland unveils construction plans

Church to begin demolition at Lexington Mall site in May; services expected to start in January 2013

bfortune@herald-leader.comFebruary 20, 2011 

This is an architectural rendering of Southland Christian Church's original proposal for the Lexington Mall site. The church hopes to attract 10,000 worshipers to five satellite campuses by Jan. 1, 2017.

Assured it has enough money from member pledges and limited financing, Southland Christian Church announced the timetable Saturday for construction of its satellite campus on the site of the former Lexington Mall.

Jon Weece, senior pastor, released the details at Southland's 5:30 p.m. Saturday service, telling the applauding congregation "the construction schedule for our Richmond Road campus is finalized." Demolition will begin in May, and the project will be completed in December 2012.

Southland's finance team approved the financial agreements Tuesday night, Weece said.

At an elders meeting Thursday night, every detail was reviewed again before a plan was adopted about 10:30 p.m., he said.

A construction manager will be hired in the next few weeks. Construction is expected to take about 18 months. The new facility is expected to be ready for services in January of 2013.

Leaders announced in July the church had a contract to buy the long vacant Lexington Mall property from Maryland-based Saul Centers, which had owned the mall since 1974.

The 31-acre tract includes the land on which Perkins and Applebee's restaurants sit but does not include the property owned by Central Bank or Home Depot or the site of a former BP station.

Southland hired EOP Architects to design the new campus.

EOP originally estimated Southland would pay $30 million to buy the land, demolish the one-story portion of the mall, build a 2,800-seat auditorium and renovate the two-story former Dillard's store for classrooms and offices.

However, Southland saved about $3.5 million by altering a few aspects of the design, such as eliminating an amphitheater and changing parking, said lead senior pastor Chris Hahn.

The changes were made after the church couldn't reach its goal of $30 million in cash and pledges to finance the project, Hahn said. However, the fund-raising effort was enough to do the project.

"We did not reach that goal, but we reached enough that with a little financing, we're going to be right on target of where we want to be," he said.

Hahn declined to pinpoint exactly what the church raised from its members.

"Honestly, I'd rather not get into all that," Hahn said. "We've got the money to move forward, and that's what we're going to do."

Southland Christian attracts about 10,000 worshipers each week between services at Harrodsburg Road and a church it opened in Danville in 2009.

Determined to attract 10,000 people to worship by Jan. 1, 2017, at five satellite campuses, church leaders turned to the property on Richmond Road, considered an eyesore since the last tenant, Dillard's, closed in 2005. The Richmond Road site will be the church's second completed satellite campus.

Reach Beverly Fortune at (859) 231-3251 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3251

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