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Hales Corners - Hales Corners Lutheran Church is looking to expand its campus on Janesville Road and consolidate school and worship services in one location, leaving plans open for a smaller campus near Grange Ave.

The expansion would include a 350-seat chapel and additional classrooms for the elementary school, which is currently housed at the Grange campus, 5425 S 111th St. The church hopes to break ground on the expansion in March 2017.

The total projected cost for the project is approximately $6.5 million, according to an FAQ document about the church's Impact project.

This plan coincides with the church's Impact campaign, part of which involves a fundraising effort for the new building and a change in the church's mission statement, which now puts a focus on "making a difference in the world for Christ."

What's next for the Grange campus?

Since the additional space would house worship services and the school from the Grange campus, the church is left to find a new purpose for that space, though they have made no decisions yet about the property's future.

"We're looking at starting the fall of 2018 school year in the new building here on the Janesville Road campus, which means we cannot remove our students beforehand, so that gives us plenty of time to figure out what is right for (the Grange) campus," said Bettina Zivney, the church's director of communication.

This plan could possibly involve a partnership with the organization "Movin' Out," which according to its website, "provides a range of housing solutions to adults with disabilities and to families that include children with disabilities." Movin' Out is currently listed under the "Partnerships" section of the church's website about the plans for the Grange campus, movinouthc.wixsite.com/blossomheath.

However, neighbors to the Grange campus have said they are not in favor of what that partnership could mean for the neighborhood, and voiced their concerns at a community meeting the church held on Sunday, Oct. 18. After that meeting, some residents walked away with the opinion that the church intended to build low-income townhomes where the campus is, and were not happy with the idea.

"We don't want this going into our neighborhood," said Jodie Nuber, who lives near the Grange campus and attended the community meeting. She added that she and other residents would be happier if the property was simply developed to include more single-family residences.

However, Zivney said, the church has made "absolutely no decision" on the future of the Grange campus, and wants to find a new purpose for the property that would work for everyone involved.

"The response from the neighbors was not terribly positive (at the meeting)," said Zivney. "So we know we have to continue working because we want to make sure that whatever we do is definitely in the best interest of the community."

Moving forward

In its quest to find the best solution, Hales Corners Lutheran plans to have more community meetings for not only the neighbors to the church, but the whole village.

"Once we get to the point where we do have solid ideas and plans, we will go back to the wider community, not just the neighbors who are directly impacted," Zivney said.

The church has not yet set a time for more meetings, and Zivney said they will wait to do so until they have more information to share with the community.

They will also keep updating their website, hcl.org/impact, with developments in the project. This website is meant to be for anyone looking for more information.

"We want to be transparent. We have absolutely nothing to hide. We are just trying to share the love of Jesus with everyone we come in contact with," said Zivney.

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