CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Elevation Church will seek zoning approval Monday to open a multimillion-dollar worship and performing arts center in the old Palace Theater off West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius.

The rapidly growing megachurch intends to invest $5 million in improvements to the interior and exterior of the building for a 1,200-seat performing arts theater, according to its application filed March 8 with the Cornelius Planning Department. The church also intends to invest $1.5 million in audio/visual systems, according to its application.

Elevation Church has seven locations across the Charlotte region. On Easter, the church opened a location in Toronto. By the end of 2014, it plans to have opened three more Charlotte area locations, in Ballantyne, University City and the old Palace Theater in the Kenton Place retail center.

The church, which serves nearly 15,000 people weekly, recently raised $8.1 million during a capital campaign to open the three new Charlotte-area locations. A private donation allowed the church to open in Toronto.

In response to questions at a March 21 community meeting on its Cornelius plans, church representatives said Elevation Lake Norman will hold worship times at 6 p.m. Saturdays and 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays.

No late-night, loud worship will be held, representatives assured the four residents who attended the community meeting. The town mailed 1,234 notices of the meeting.

The goal is to open Elevation Lake Norman early next year, but that will depend on the renovations schedule, church representatives said at the meeting.

At 7 p.m. April 22 at Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave., the Cornelius Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Elevation Lake Norman s zoning request to allow civic uses as a principal use in the former Palace, 8325 Copely Drive. The board could then vote on the request.

Town planners recommend approval, if the church meets certain conditions, including providing a 10-foot sidewalk along West Catawba Avenue, or cash for the sidewalk.

The church also would have to restripe traffic lanes, including at the intersections of Copely Drive, Dunmore Drive and Kenton Drive at West Catawba, and Kenton Drive at Sam Furr Road, in coordination with the N.C. Department of Transportation and Cornelius Planning Department.

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