BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - The Christ Fellowship megachurch has finalized its move on a Dillard's property it's been eyeing for a year.
Church spokesman Mike Anthony said the 127,000 square-foot property in the Boynton Beach Mall will be the new home of the Boynton branch of the Christ Fellowship church.
The church is currently working with the city to design a site plan, with the intention to move into their new location by Dec.1, 2013.
"Christ Fellowship is excited about the opportunity to restore hope in families and marriages in the community of Boynton Beach," Anthony said on Friday.
The church already has a presence in Boynton, as it's been holding services at the Boynton Beach High School auditorium since Dec. 2 because of delays that came about when closing the deal.
The church had to address the needs of mall retailers and residents who were concerned about traffic, parking and other issues coming from having a church in a commercial center.
"We are surprised that the process has taken this long, but we realize the situation takes diligence and patience and we'll proceed as quickly as we can with development," Anthony said in November.
Even without a permanent location, the church still managed to attract over 1,300 people to its pews on its first weekend of service at the high school.
With a permanent space, there will be more room for the congregation to grow.
"Our new location is in a central part of the community and has easy access for a lot of people," said Dave Lonsberry, executive director of business and finance at Christ Fellowship.
"Within five miles of Dillard's is the densest population of any of our existing campuses, and once we set up a permanent location it will only grow more quickly," he said.
The church will be working very closely with the mall to attract visitors from out of town, along with Boynton residents.
Darren Shepherd, manager of the Boynton Beach mall says that adding a church to the mall directory will only help make the mall a better shopping center.
"Boynton Beach Mall strives to provide all of our mall visitors with a quality experience by offering them access to a variety of tenants," Shepherd said. "Christ Fellowship is an example of this commitment to the community we serve," he said.
The high-volume church already has services in Royal Palm, Stuart, West Palm and Palm Beach Gardens, which attract over 18,000 visitors a week, according to the church.
The project will also create about 350 construction jobs, 35 permanent jobs and about $1.5 million in payroll, said Don Delaney, an economist hired by the church for the project.
Christ Fellowship is one of the top 25 fastest growing evangelical churches in the nation. The church plans to keep expanding in Martin County, where they already hold service. The church bought 321 acres near South Fork high school for a possible new satellite location.
"Our desire has always been to add value to the community, serve families, love on all people and help those in their greatest need," said Lead Pastor Todd Mullins.
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