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Elevation Church Seeks Approval For Ballantyne Expansion

One of Charlotte's fastest growing evangelical congregations is moving north – and south.

Elevation Church got approval from the town of Cornelius last month for a $5 million renovation of the old Palace Theater to house its Lake Norman worshippers.

On Monday night, the church will seek Charlotte city approval to build a new $20 million facility in Ballantyne, bringing its total outposts in the region to nine.

Elevation Church relies heavily on technology to beam the sermons of its charismatic young founder Steven Furtick to some 11,000 followers in mostly rented auditoriums around the region.

But the church's three south Charlotte locations are now overcrowded, as Furtick explained to worshippers in launching a campaign to raise money for the expansion last fall.

"We're going to build a 1,500 seat auditorium off of 521 in addition to our Blakeney location and make some more room for some more people to meet Jesus – does that sound good to anybody?" announced Furtick to cheers from the congregation. "And I hope you're clapping that loud when I tell you how much it's going to cost!"

Twenty-million dollars is the reported cost for Elevation's Ballantyne expansion, which will also include a three-story office building for administrative staff and broadcast facilities.

The church reports raising $7 million last year to buy the 21-acre Ballantyne property and the old Palace Theater in Cornelius which it plans to renovate.  Church contributions by Elevation members last year were close to $400,000 a week.

The Ballantyne expansion requires Charlotte city council approval because the location is currently zoned for multi-family residential use.

Half a dozen neighbors attended a community meeting last month to voice concerns about the traffic impact Sunday worship would have on Lancaster Highway and 521. But, notes one neighbor, a mega-church is probably better for neighbors than the traffic associated with 600 apartments, which is what the property is currently zoned to accommodate.

A public hearing on that rezoning is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.