LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A growing downtown church plans to build a new facility on a newly purchased block. But a downtown neighborhood association has some concerns.
Clear River Church currently sits on North Third Street in downtown Lafayette. With three services on Sundays overflowing with people, pastor Tony Ranvestel said it’s time to upgrade. The church has purchased the block between Third and Fourth streets, north of Brown Street.
“Our plans are to, long term, build a structure there that will house us into the future and, so, spruce up the downtown area here. It’s been in kind of rough shape for awhile, so we’re excited for how it’s going to make the area feel as far as a newness and freshness to the block,” said Ranvestel.
But the plans for the new church aren’t sitting well with the Historic Centennial Neighborhood Association, board member Michael O. Hunt said neighbors have worked for years to revitalize the neighborhood. He said talks with church about the plans for the new facility never happened.
“I think that it is very, very important that not only the ministers, but the congregation. This group, predominantly young people, understand physically where they are, historically where they are, and why this neighborhood has busted their buns to create improvements,” said Hunt.
Hunt said he and other neighbors are also concerned about the parking. Ranvestel said church leaders realize that’s a concern of neighbors. He said the church is in the process of purchasing a second block where the old Duke building currently stands. He said that will help with parking as well as getting creative.
“There’s a couple parking garages downtown that are free on weekends, so we’ve talked about possibly having our people park there and then having a church van shuttle people to the front door,” said Ranvestel.
Hunt said the neighborhood association will be meeting with church leaders next month. Even though the plans for the new facility are already in place, he hopes members of the church will take away a better understanding of the history of the neighborhood.
“How do you fit in? How do you want to fit in? And sure, from our point of view, there also has to be simultaneously, how do we help make this happen? But really, the first and foremost point is they have to express an interest in being involved,” said Hunt.
“I think it’s important to establish that relationship and just show the neighborhood that we’re not planning on going anywhere. So, while we’re here we want to do the best we can to serve and love people,” said Ranvestel.
Right now, Ranvestel said there are no plans to develop the east part of the block where Jane’s Gournet Deli and Catering currently stands.
Ranvestel said demolition will start late this summer or early fall. Construction will begin immediately after demolition, with hopes of being in the new facility by Easter of next year.