After two years of planning, First Baptist Church of Leesburg is launching construction plans for a second church sanctuary adjacent to The Villages in Fruitland Park.
The church has submitted requests for a grading permit to the St. Johns River Water Management District for grading and retention to build a second sanctuary on a hill in Fruitland Park overlooking The Villages of Fruitland Park. The church is also starting the process of submitting construction plans to Fruitland Park's building department.
"They have a big grading job to do," said Charlie Rector, Fruitland Park's community development director.
Dirt should be moving by the end of this year, executive pastor Art Ayris told GrowthSpotter.
The church inherited some 200 acres of former dairy land in the will of a congregant a few years ago, prompting the decision to create a second church location on the new property to minister to the ever-growing Villages residents, as well as growing Fruitland Park.
The new congregation has been meeting in the local American Legion Hall until the new church building is complete, hopefully in time for Christmas 2019, Ayris said.
Plans are to build an all-purpose building large enough to hold 680 people, with meeting space, an amphitheater and fountain before the main church building of 1,400 to 1,500 seats is built. Another 20 acres on CR 466-A is slated for four commercial lots on the road frontage, said Ayris.
Another 65 acres are expected to be sold to an assisted living group, he added.
Another developer is currently planning an office and retail center across the street on the north side of 466-A.