Southland's plans for Lexington Mall get city's blessing

The former Dillard's department store will be used for Sunday school classes under the new plan.
The former Dillard's department store will be used for Sunday school classes under the new plan.

Southland Christian Church's plans to redevelop the Lexington Mall property on Richmond Road received final approval from the city's Planning Commission on Thursday.

One of the few changes to the plan will be that the former Dillard's department store will be converted to Sunday school classrooms and space for other church activities instead of being used as the planned 2,800-seat sanctuary.

Architects decided it would be too expensive to make some changes to the Dillard's building like reinforcing the floors, said Darby Turner, an attorney who represented Southland before the Planning Commission.

The one-story portion of the mall will be razed, as originally planned, but that area will become the new 45,000 square-foot sanctuary.

Craig Avery, chairman of the church's board of directors, said details of how the church will finance the purchase of Lexington Mall from Saul Centers will be announced Saturday afternoon, as will the date of closing on the sale.

Southland expects to spend about $30 million buying and redeveloping the 30-acre site, which is planned as one of five satellites to the church's Harrodsburg Road location.

Architectural renderings of the new building will also be released at that time.

Southland announced in August it intended to buy the defunct mall from owner Saul Centers.

Minor changes to a proposed curb next to Applebee's were also approved to allow the restaurant to continue sharing the parking lot with the church. "We want them to be very vibrant and exciting," Turner said of Applebee's, which had a long-term lease with Saul Centers. "Whatever we can do to help them, we will," he said.

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