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Plans progress for new 34,000-square-foot church building on Auburn Blvd.

A rendering submitted to the city shows how a new Pioneer Baptist Church building is proposed to look.

By Mike Hazlip—
After several years of talk, formal plans are moving ahead for a proposed 3-plus acre church campus on Auburn Boulevard across from Rusch Park.

Documents were formerly submitted by Pioneer Baptist Church to the city’s planning department in September, showing a 34,400-square-foot church building proposed for the 3.73-acre site. The facility would include an auditorium, classrooms, a gymnasium, and space for day care.

Kyle Conley, pastor of the church, told The Sentinel earlier this month that the project is “an answer to prayer.” His congregation currently meets in the historic, hundred-year-old former “Friends church” building at 7600 Old Auburn Rd., but is outgrowing the 7,000-square-foot facility.

Plans currently allow for the new sanctuary to hold at least 450 people, but there might be some modifications to comply with height requirements and other regulations, Conley said.

Planning documents show the sanctuary is designed to be about the same depth as the current building, but with an increased width to accommodate more people. Conley said he likes the intimate feeling of the current building, and wanted a design that would allow him to see people sitting in the back rows.

Initially, Conley was not looking forward to navigating the maze of regulations that accompany new building projects, but he said city staff hae been helpful.

“We’ve had great communication. They’ve helped us out quite a bit,” the pastor said.

In a statement to The Sentinel last week, city spokeswoman Nichole Baxter said the church is currently making changes to the plans to comply with code requirements.

“As with all projects that come to the city, our planning team works collaboratively with developers, businesses, and organizations to ensure new projects or improvements meet standards – all with the goal of elevating our community while focusing on safety,” Baxter said in her email. “The projects happening along Auburn Blvd. are of particular interest to the city, as the corridor is a crucial part of our community and economic development revitalization.”

Conley said church leadership was looking to purchase an existing building when the vacant lot became available. He said keeping the congregation in Citrus Heights was a top priority.

“We know our church has been in Citrus Heights since ‘70 or ‘73, I believe, and we wanted to keep it here,” Conley said. “So it’s a real answer to prayer for us to get this property.”

Another top concern for Conley was to maintain the history of the building itself. Completed in 1921, the structure is one of six historical landmarks in Citrus Heights.

Architectural renderings of the proposed building show a traditional church steeple with modern accents to the design.

“We’re trying to honor our current building,” he said. “I’m a traditionalist as far as style and we wanted the building to look like a church and remind us of our roots and where we came from.”

A prior article by The Sentinel reported Pioneer Baptist bought the land in 2018. At the time, Conley said the church’s goal was to raise the money so the project can be completed debt free.

An additional parcel just north of the site was sold to the church for $1, according to Conley. A creek runs through the site which has been a challenge for the site design because there are required setbacks.

Conley hopes the new building will be a “beacon of hope” for the community. He plans to be a good neighbor with surrounding homes and businesses while also serving others.

“Our goal for this building literally is not to be just for our church,” he said. “This is not just to serve our church. How can we use this to minister to everybody in our community?”

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