(Photo: Mecklenburg County Property Ownership and Land Records Information System (POLARIS))
A North Carolina megachurch known for its fast-growing congregation has received approval for further expansion of its facilities to an old theater.
Elevation Church, one of the state's largest churches, got a zoning approval on Monday evening by the Cornelius Board of Commissioners to the old Palace Theater, located in an area called Lake Norman.
Tonia Bendickson, director of outreach and communications for Elevation, told The Christian Post that the congregation was "thrilled" at the approval.
"We are thrilled at the opportunity to move forward with plans to expand to the Lake Norman area," said Bendickson. "We look forward to becoming an integral part of this amazing community. We are grateful for the board's decision and look forward to being a great neighbor."
Dubbed Elevation Lake Norman, according to The Charlotte Observer, the church will be investing $5 million in improvements to the interior and exterior of the facility. It will have 277 parking spaces.
"We've found that hundreds of our regular volunteers are already engaged at Elevation locations all over our city and commute from the Lake Norman area every weekend to be a part of what God is doing through Elevation," said Bendickson to CP.
"So we know there's an opportunity for God to move and grow the body of Christ in that area."
The board voted two to one in favor of Elevation. Wayne Herron, director of planning for the Town of Cornelius, provided The Christian Post with background as to the process Elevation went through.
"The performing arts center use was approved for a structure that was previously approved and constructed as a movie theater and in 2009 the property owners … requested a rezoning of both parcels … to be used as the Lake Norman Cultural Arts Center," said Herron.
"The approved rezoning in 2009 specified that civic uses were only allowed as ancillary uses and Elevation Lake Norman was requesting civic uses be allowed as principal uses. That is the amendment approved by the Town Board last evening."
Herron also told CP that the main reason for a majority of the board agreeing to the amendment was that they saw the renovation plans of Elevation as being beneficial to the surrounding area.
"The board noted during their approval that the proposal would revitalize Kenton Place, be a good zoning fit for the overall mixed use project, and provide a venue for good performing arts events," said Herron.
According to Bendickson, the expected launch date for the Elevation Lake Norman campus should be sometime next year.