A St. Anthony church is eyeing a move to a vacant Arden Hills office building.
Grove Community Church, which has been meeting at Elmwood Evangelical Free Church for the past six years, brought its plan before the Arden Hills city council last week.
“What we’d like to do is put a 900-seat auditorium in the property on the first floor,” said Lead Pastor Josh Krehbiel. “We really feel excitement around bringing improvements and helping with the revitalization of this area.”
The property, located at 1275 Red Fox Road, is a two-story, 75,600-square-foot building currently owned by ET Arden Hills LLC. It was built in 1986 and is just down the road from another proposed development on that road — a vacant Perkins building that could become a Chick-fil-A restaurant. The company recently presented its concept to the council.
Grove Community wants to renovate the building into a place of worship that would include four large classrooms, a Montessori daycare center, a counseling center and an internal coffee shop. The church hopes to lease out the unused portions of the building.
In order to move forward in the process, the city will have to approve a conditional use permit that would allow for the following changes that the current zoning does not allow: using the building as a place of worship, using rooms for master classes for different business sectors, having an internal coffee shop and creating a rentable podcast/video/photography space.
Grove Community, which started as a home Bible study in 2013, has grown to a congregation of 700 members.
“Ninety percent of our community is actually under the age of 40, which is I think a unique marker of our people,” said Katie Krehbiel, a lead pastor and also Josh’s wife. They live in Blaine with their four young children.
“We consist of young professionals and a ton of young families,” she said. “We do not consider ourselves a neighborhood church. The people that actually come on Sundays to our services are coming from all throughout the Twin Cities. We have people coming from Woodbury and Eden Prairie and Forest Lake. We have people coming in from St Cloud and Buffalo.”
The church started looking for its own home in 2018 and has finally settled on the property on Red Fox Road, which it is negotiating to purchase, once the city gives its approval.
When the church gets its own building, the congregation has planned to rebrand itself as “Everyday.”
“Healthy hearts, healthy homes is actually the key to healthy neighborhoods and healthy cities,” Josh explained. “We’re passionate about everyday life, and not just Sunday. That’s why we’re going to be called Everyday. So, not that creative. It’s just basically our mission.”
The purpose of the concept review is to give the applicant a chance to hear initial feedback from the city council before pursuing a course of action. A formal application will be subject to the full review process, including a public hearing with the planning commission and a city council review.
The council had no outright objections, but did raise concerns about traffic and having a daycare center so close to International Paper across the street that has semi-trucks coming and going daily.
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Author: Deanna Weniger
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