Lake Norman & Mooresville

Catholic Diocese expands school

A text amendment to allow schools in Huntersville's corporate business district means the Diocese of Charlotte can move forward with building its third high school in a 46 county area.

Christ the King Catholic High School may be temporarily housed at 13728 Statesville Road, which was formerly a manufacturing facility, although the school's project developer Dan Dolan, said plans have not yet been finalized.

The Diocese has also considered purchasing a permanent site and putting temporary facilities on the site, added Dolan.

Town board members voted unanimously Dec. 20 to add schools to the corporate business district but with some stipulations. Schools can only be temporarily housed in existing buildings zoned corporate business and they also must request and receive a special use permit before proceeding.

That way, town board members can review requests on a case by case basis, said senior planner Brad Priest.

"The town doesn't want this to be a normal occurrence," said Priest. "The main concern was that corporate business is our zone for economic development and job creation and you don't want to take up that valuable land with schools that don't generate that tax base."

But the town was willing to make an exception because they recognized the need for schools in the area, added Priest.

Currently, there are two parochial Catholic High Schools in the entire Diocese of Charlotte: Charlotte Catholic in south Charlotte and Bishop McGuinness in Kernersville, said David Hains, communications director for the Diocese.

Everyday, more than a hundred students from the Lake Norman area commute to Charlotte Catholic because that's their only option, said Gary Knox, the Charlotte-based real estate broker representing the school.

About1,400 students attend Charlotte Catholic, but with the opening of Christ the King the Diocese of Charlotte hopes to reach students in five counties: Cabarrus, Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln and Mecklenburg.

Plans have not been finalized for the site and Dolan could not comment on whether the Diocese was looking at other temporary sites for the high school.

If the Statesville Road location is chosen, the temporary school will house about 100 students initially, all of who would be ninth graders, said Dolan.

The maximum occupancy of the building on Statesville Road would be between 200 and 300 students, he said.

While the school is housed at the former manufacturing center for the next few years, school officials will continue looking for the school's permanent location. They hope it's within a five mile radius of downtown Huntersville, said Hains.

The growing population in north Mecklenburg and a demand for a Catholic school in the area merited the Diocese setting up a temporary site , said Dolan.

"There's a certain energy among parents that say, 'Boy how can we get this school to open?'" he said. "We're trying to be as responsible as we can in meeting those desires."

Dolan said Christ the King's permanent location would compare to Bishop's size with about 600 students.