Elevation to build church in Rock Hill’s Riverwalk community

Elevation Church opened a new building in University City campus in Charlotte earlier this year. The worship center seats 1,200 people.
Elevation Church opened a new building in University City campus in Charlotte earlier this year. The worship center seats 1,200 people.

One of the Charlotte-area’s fastest growing churches has plans to build a 34,000-square-foot campus in Rock Hill’s Riverwalk community, according to city records.

Elevation Church, which holds weekly services at Sullivan Middle School on Cherry Road in Rock Hill, has submitted plans for a new building, including 700 parking spaces.

Rock Hill Elevation Pastor Tim Fara told The Herald on Thursday the church will release more details later. Riverwalk developer Dave Williams of Assured Group did not return a phone call from the newspaper Thursday.

A plan on file with the city shows Elevation wants to locate at the corner of Eden Terrace Extension and Cel River Road, on 11 acres of vacant land. The property is located in the Riverwalk development – Rock Hill’s only mixed-use community that includes about 200 single-family homes and counting; 144 apartments, with more planned; commercial and industrial businesses; and recreational facilities.

A grocery store is planned for the area, on Cherry Road, and other businesses, including Grapevine – a Fort Mill-based wine and beer bar – are slated for the community’s “river district.” Officials say they anticipate Charlotte Running Company and Glow Beauty Lounge to locate inside Riverwalk.

Riverwalk, near Cherry Road and Interstate 77, is home to the Rock Hill Outdoor Center operated by the city of Rock Hill. There, facilities open to the public include a BMX Supercross track, a cycling velodrome, walking and biking trails and a kayak launch on the Catawba River.

Elevation’s proposed location is near the river. Details about whether the church will lease or buy the land – owned by the private developer – were not released Thursday.

In October, the Rock Hill City Council made changes to the Riverwalk “planned development,” adding – at the developer’s request – religious institutions as an allowable use on certain parts of the more than 1,000-acre site. The city’s planning commission also approved the change.

At the September planning commission meeting, Williams told city officials his Riverwalk development is made up of about 30 percent residential uses, 50 percent industrial businesses, and 3 percent commercial uses.

Elevation still needs site plan approval from the Rock Hill Planning Commission.

He also said primary access to the proposed church will be from Cel River Road. Rock Hill staff members said during recent public meetings that some nearby residents are concerned about increased traffic from the church.

Others were concerned having a religious institution nearby could hamper the potential of businesses hoping to locate in Riverwalk that sell alcohol. City Council members were told last month that churches will only be allowed to locate in Riverwalk in areas that would not be too close to restaurants or businesses selling beer, wine or liquor.

Officials told The Herald on Thursday the next major step for Elevation is to obtain site plan approval for the church from the planning commission in January.

Elevation has 13 locations, according to its website. Those include four in Charlotte and two in Matthews, N.C. The Charlotte Observer reported earlier this year Elevation has more than 17,000 worshipers across its locations, including one in Toronto. Several locations hold services in temporary or rented sites, such as Sullivan Middle, and schools in Weddington, N.C., and Concord, N.C.