Community members will gather tonight for a ground breaking banquet to celebrate the future of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Village in Chapel Hill.
The church will relocate from 101 South Merritt Mill Road to 20.4 acres between Rogers Road and Purefoy Drive.
The project will be more than a new worship center. It will also include a family center, affordable housing for senior residents and families, a banquet hall and a sanctuary.
If approved, the project will be completed in three phases and will cost between $25 and $30 million, Senior Pastor Thomas Nixon said.
“We are very early in the building process and these are just rough estimates,” Nixon said.
The cost of the project will be covered by contributions, partnerships and loans, he said.
The St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church will work with religious groups and independent contractors to build and operate the affordable housing project and a health center, Nixon said.
The partnerships will bring savings while leaving the church majority ownership, he said. He said the housing and health center are intended for community members in need, not just church members.
“The entire community will benefit from the project,” said Curtis Jackson, building project co-chairman.
The affordable housing project is slated to be the most expensive development in phase one, with an estimated cost of $7 million.
To preserve the history of the Rogers Road neighborhood, the project will also include the construction of the Rogers Road Historical Museum.
“Rogers Road is one of the last historic African American neighborhoods in the area and we want to work to preserve its history,” Nixon said.
The proposed site is located just west of the Rogers-Eubanks Community Center, the headquarters of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association.
“We’re pretty happy that they’re coming into the neighborhood,” said David Caldwell, leader of the association.
“Numbers make all the difference and them in the neighborhood increases numbers for programs we are trying to run.”
The church is working with a realtor to sell off its current property, which has grown too small to fit the church’s plans for expansion.
“I came to this church in June of 2004,” Nixon said. “During that first year we began to talk about what kind of ministry we want to be involved in.”
The vision for the project was to build a worship facility that met both the spiritual and physical needs of the community, Nixon said.
Efforts will be taken to preserve the history of the old church, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014, he said.
“The plans call for us to preserve the existing sanctuary and move it to the next location to use as a chapel for the memorial park and a meeting space,” Nixon said.
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