Celebration-based illuminate Church has a master plan for the 19-acre site the congregation bought in 2018 and hopes to start construction in March on a $6 million building that can accommodate the growing ministry.
The new 43,500-square-foot building would be the first phase of the sprawling campus on Sinclair Road. The building would have a sanctuary large enough to accommodate 650 worshippers. It will be a metal structure clad in wood-like siding with walls of windows.
“Before COVID, we were averaging about 500 people at Sunday service,” church board member Matt Call said. He and members of the development team took part in a pre-application meeting Wednesday morning with Osceola County’s Development Review Committee.
The congregation, led by Pastor Tim Ingram, has been meeting at Celebration High School since 2012. In 2018 the church paid $3.1 million for the property at northeast corner of Sinclair Road and Formosa Gardens Boulevard, at the S.R. 429 Western Beltway interchange. Since that transaction closed, a new apartment complex has opened across the street and another one is planned right next door.
The congregation worked with Heidt Design and landscape architecture firm Dix.Hite to create a cohesive master plan that can be developed over multiple phases. It would include a second building with an even larger sanctuary — if the congregation outgrows the first building — and a water feature that doubles as a baptismal pool.
“There’s really no timeline for the Phase 2 building,” Ingram said. “It all depends on the growth. When churches build, sometimes they double overnight. We have no expectations other than to fulfill our mission.”
A prayer walk would encompass the perimeter of the campus, which is dotted with smaller venues throughout the property. There’s a wedding chapel on the eastern boundary, an outdoor chapel near Building 1.
“We’ll have playgrounds and, eventually, an amphitheater where we’ll have regular outdoor events,” Ingram said. “With all the apartments around us and the lack of public parks, we want to be a front yard to the community where they can come and use our space and feel welcome here.”
They also wanted to have a minimal impact to the environment, so the parking lots would be a combination of paved drive aisles with grass parking spaces, lined with rain gardens featuring Florida-friendly plants. The design reduces the need for stormwater retention.
“Dix.Hite is great at creating these spaces so they’re purposeful,” Ingram said. “The rain garden will be beautiful and functional. We’re going to do as much xeriscape as we can do.”
Ingram said they also hope to find a way to incorporate the timber that will have to be harvested when the site is cleared. “A lot of the wooded area of the property will remain untouched,” he said. “We only intend to clear what’s needed for the first phase building and retention.”
Their goal is to complete building by late 2021 and to have paid off the debt on the land purchase by the time they occupy the new church.