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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 3, 2018 6 months ago

First Church of Christ, Scientist moves closer to reconstruction

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The Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board approved the conditional use for the project during its meeting on Tuesday.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

A project to reconstruct the church at 650 N. New York Ave. has taken another step forward. 

Conditional use approval for a new First Church of Christ, Scientist was approved by the Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board Tuesday, May 1.

The 6,989-square-foot building with 44 parking spaces would be the second iteration of the church after the previous structure was demolished recently.

The redevelopment project, spearheaded by Condev Land LLC, also would make room for 16 townhomes on 1.30 acres at the north end of the property, leaving room for a new church building set for the remaining 0.93 acres.

The project stemmed from the church’s decision more than two years ago to consolidate into a new facility. The church’s main building, nursery, offices and Sunday school were all spread out in separate buildings, but a new building would bring everything together.

“It will be nice having the Sunday school students right under the same roof as us, so we come out into the foyer and mingle,” church member and volunteer Barbara Leigh said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Having a smaller, more energy-efficient building also would allow the church to put more resources into its various ministries, such as public lectures, sending literature to Africa, youth activities and serving local detention centers.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to better meet our church’s needs and also provide this development opportunity within Winter Park’s central business district,” said Steven Wennerstrom, chairman of the church’s executive board. “Our church has a long history in the community, and we plan to be here for a long time to come.” 

The building also sits on a premium piece of land facing the Winter Park Golf Course, which isn’t being used to its full potential, Leigh told the Observer in October.

“The whole motivation is to move forward and better serve the community and be more united in our church family by having a whole campus together,” Leigh said. “It’s what’s best for everybody.”

The original church edifice was built in 1958 and has had a public reading room along Park Avenue since the mid-1960s, making it one of the oldest tenants along Winter Park’s downtown strip.

Church services are temporarily being held at Orange Technical College along Webster Avenue, Leigh said.

The new church building is expected to break ground by the summer and be completed by fall 2019.

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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