The Calvary Chapel, new building 
Renovated Wal-Mart  
Pinellas Park, FL  
The congregation at Calvary Chapel in Pinellas Park, FL, outside of St.Petersburg, had outgrown its building, which is a retired Winn-Dixie grocery store. When Wal-Mart abandoned the building across the street to build a Super Wal-Mart a quarter mile down the road, church-members kind of looked at each other and chuckled, thinking, "What if....?" Well, the idea shifted from a joking comment to an idea that actually made a lot of sense, and they made a bid. They found out that they were actually up against a much higher bidder, but this high bidder had various zoning stipulations built into their offer. As a result of this, the Calvary Chapel won out.

The church is moving over into their new home in stages. They were able to keep the lease on the old Winn-Dixie building even after they purchased the Wal-Mart building, giving them the freedom to move over in phases rather than all at once. There are major plans for expansion in the new space. The church can only assume that its congregation will grow as a result of the move as well. People already drive past the new church just out of amazement at the old Wal-Mart being made into a church, and the congregation expects to attract more folks due to this fact alone. The Calvary Chapel is actually adding a second story to the front of the120,000 square foot building.

As with most big box renovators, the parking lot was a large reason for the purchase of the building. The church expects to be able to fill this parking lot on any given Sunday. Meanwhile, in the back of the building, the Calvary Chapel is building gazebos and pathways for outdoor activities--weddings and the like-- in the beautiful Florida weather. The back yard is surely part of the store that was not used by Wal-Mart, and is being utilized solely because of the renovation. Julia is going to travel to this site in the summer of 2005 to see the updated progress on the site.


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