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Southland Christian Church's plan for mall site gains Planning Commission approval

Southland Christian Church's amended plan calls for a smaller pond in front of its satellite campus on the site of the former Lexington Mall.
Southland Christian Church's amended plan calls for a smaller pond in front of its satellite campus on the site of the former Lexington Mall. HERALD-LEADER

Southland Christian Church got approval from the Lexington Planning Commission on Thursday to amend its development plan for the site of the former Lexington Mall on Richmond Road, where it is building a satellite campus.

The new plan creates a second commercial parcel fronting Richmond Road that could be leased or sold, and the plan will significantly reduce the size of the pond in front of the old mall.

Faced with escalating costs that put the project $4 million over budget, the church had to find ways to save money. "We don't like to do this, but it's what we think we have to do," said Craig Avery, chairman of the church's board of directors.

Eighty percent of the pond would be filled in to make room for the second commercial parcel. Jim Capley, president of the Idle Hour Neighborhood Association, said residents are worried that filling in the pond will make flooding worse in their neighborhood.

But Charlie Martin, director of the city division of water quality, said it would not increase flooding. Floods occur in the neighborhood because culverts that collect water upstream are too small, Martin said.

Although the new pond will be smaller, it will be deeper, holding 45 percent more water than the current pond, said Southland's attorney Darby Turner.

Southland made up $2 million of its projected $4 million in extra costs by redesigning plans for its new building, Turner said.

Disposing of sludge from the pond and landscaping around the pond would cost $750,000. Repaving the parking lot would cost an additional $1.25 million. Being able to sell or lease two commercial lots will be enough to cover the remaining $2 million shortfall, Turner said.

Formal opening is Jan. 5-6, said Kurt Braun, head of finance and administration.

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