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Client Spotlight: Southland Christian Church’s New Satellite Campus Brings New Life to Lexington

Southland Christian Church, originally established in Lexington, Ky., in 1956, hosts a community that gathers to worship at its Harrodsburg Road main campus and its Danville satellite campus. Throughout the years, members have selflessly extended their hands to help those in need within their communities and have worked towards making a global impact. The members of Southland Christian Church focus their attention and efforts towards four specific Expressions in order to aid their communities and others when on mission. The four Expressions include relentlessly pursuing a transforming relationship with God, sacrificially serving their families, radically investing in the next generation and generously extending hope to the poor. 

The Need For Expansion

Southland’s community involvement has exponentially expanded over the years, and with its increased efforts to continue serving and loving their community and its increase in members, Southland Church saw the need for physical expansion of their campuses. 

In 2010, as its weekly attendance was nearing 10,000, Southland acquired the property for its third campus and began planning for reconstruction. Formerly the site of the Lexington Mall, the large Richmond Road property proved to be an ideal site for the expansion and even provided enough space for further expansion in the future. The Lexington Mall, which struggled to remain competitive throughout the 1990’s with the additions of new shopping centers in Lexington and the Fayette Mall, was abandoned for good in 2005 when the last remaining tenant, Dillard’s, closed its doors.  

To take on this old, neglected building and smoothly revamp the property based on Southland’s visions, the Church needed an experienced and dedicated attorney on its side. Southland sought the assistance of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP partner Job D. (Darby) Turner to obtain the land use approvals necessary for the project. Turner, who is a member of the firm’s Corporate and Transactional Practice Group and the Tax and Finance Practice Group, proved to be the right attorney for the job. Familiar with larger-than-life projects, Turner focuses his practice on general corporate representation, tax increment financing, real estate law, governmental affairs including representation before the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Planning and Zoning Commission, and business and estate planning matters. BGD partner Kimberly H. Bryant assisted Turner with this project.

Southland Gives New Life to Property

The property, which remained a vacant eye-sore for Lexington, had been a reminder of the struggling economy for years. For many who frequented the mall in its prime, the property became a ghostly, nostalgic memory and left many within the community with questions about what would come of the abandoned building. 

Southland Christian Church’s idea of modernizing and redeveloping the property into an exciting and vibrant satellite campus would prove to bring excitement and life to the once thriving location. In September 2010, the Church closed on the property, nearly 32 acres with a price of $8,132,000. The project costs, which would include acquisition, construction costs and associated expenses, were estimated at $30 million.

The Future of Southland Christian Church

In early 2011, Southland presented an amended redevelopment plan to the staff of the Planning Commission that called for two outparcels in the area between the Applebee’s restaurant and BP gas station on Richmond Road. The plans also included a design for a smaller reconfigured pond at the entrance of the property. The outparcels, which are generally small lots along the edge of the property that the owner can lease, were included in the plans to offset some of the project’s costs and to complete the revitalization of the project. Turner represented Southland before the Planning Commission for the approvals of the plan’s amendments. 

During May 2011, the new Richmond Road campus was well on its way to transforming into the new state-of-the-art campus. Southland hired Messer Construction as the construction management firm and EOP Architects for the project and the first phase of reconstruction began. Southland was starting to make a small dent in renovating the 133,000 total square foot building.

Southland Church had revealed big plans for the new campus that would soon house a new 51,000 square foot Worship Center with floor and balcony seating for 2,800 people.  84,000 square feet of the former Dillard’s space was included in plans for various ministries including nursery, children, middle school, high school and teaching spaces. The plans also included 61,000 square feet of the former Dillard’s space to be left unfinished for further future expansions. The church included approximately 1,800 parking spaces in the plan. 

For the next two years, the Church continued rebuilding and anticipating the opening that was planned for spring 2013. Volunteers and members of the church graciously offered their time to the renovation and reconstruction. In fall 2012, individuals from the new campus community gathered to write scriptures on the floors of the building before the installation of carpet. The Church took this opportunity to remind the members that the campus can only be built on God’s truth.

January 2013 shed light on the hard work and successful renovation as it opened its doors for its first weekend services. With more than 4,700 individuals in attendance for the grand opening, the service proved to roll out exactly as anticipated.  The satellite location allowed members to enjoy the message by viewing Jon Weece, Lead Follower, teach while physically at the Harrodsburg Road campus. The new campus houses a wall of brand new flat-screen TVs for viewing each service, as well as plenty of new innovative audio and visual equipment and special lighting to make each service an exciting and moving experience. 

Concluding the service, Weece was able to rush over to the Richmond Road campus to greet individuals. Southland’s new approach and high-tech equipment proved to be everything everyone had hoped for as it took some effort to persuade attendees that Weece, in fact, was not teaching live at the Richmond Road location. Currently over 4,000 members attend weekly service at the new Richmond Road location.

With Turner’s experience and background, Messer Construction and EOP Architects, the new Southland Christian Church has marked a milestone on the journey to recovering run-down, forgotten victims of the economy’s downfall.

  • Partner

    Darby is a member of the Corporate Services Department as well as the Tax and Finance Department. His practice focuses on general corporate representation, tax increment financing, real estate law, governmental affairs ...

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