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New Sacred Heart building will be church space, not school

Driving down King Street, I noticed a sign for a public hearing about a certain lot. I believe the street address is 624 W. 11th St. As a resident of the neighborhood, I’m curious what might be going into that lot. It has only ever been a small grassy space.

— M.N.

That public hearing was a few months ago, and the plan is to transform not just the grassy spot at the corner, but also two adjacent lots.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church owns all three lots, said Father Ken Sampson, and plans to open a new Faith Formation Center next to its existing campus. The center would serve as a regional training center, providing meeting space, classrooms and even an enclosed courtyard garden for reflection and prayer, he said.

Some who attended the public hearing for the project before the Site Plan and Architectural Commission in October wondered whether the development was for use by Sacred Heart School, Sampson said.

“It’s not anything like that,” he said. “It’s a catechetical building.”

Staff and visitors would use existing parking options, he said, which would help mitigate impacts to traffic flows in the area.

“If I were a neighbor, I wouldn’t worry,” he said.

The two residences on the properties involved have been clergy rectories for several years, Sampson said. The church purchased new rectory space and would demolish those buildings to make way for the Faith Formation Center.

The church still has to apply for its final building permits, and it also needs approval from its archdiocese regarding its architectural plan, Sampson said. That approval process will likely determine whether the church can begin construction in 2020.

In addition to providing parishioners with more space, Sampson said, the new facility would allow for other community and civics uses — he listed Alcoholics Anonymous as an example.

“We hope eventually to make more connections with the public,” Sampson said. “We haven’t had that luxury a lot, because we’ve been so cramped.”

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