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Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 14, 201805:20 AM EST

St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church plans new campus

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Church seeks permits for $8.4 million campus on Beach Boulevard.

St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church submitted plans to the city for its Beach Boulevard campus.

The church applied for permits totaling a job cost of $8.4 million for a worship center, banquet hall and education building at 12760 Beach Blvd., east of Kernan Boulevard.

Sauer Inc. is the contractor and Kasper Architects & Associates is the architect.

In its Aug. 1 project update online at stjohnthedivinejax.org, the church says it is in contract negotiations to sell its existing property at 3850 Atlantic Blvd. at an offer of $1.3 million.

The new campus includes a Byzantine crucifix-form sanctuary for worship services, an administrative-education building and a banquet hall to include an airnasium – a covered outdoor gymnasium – and grassed area for sporting and outdoor events, including the Greek Festival and its Easter Picnic.

Construction is expected to start by the end of November with completion in about a year. The permits show it will encompass 5 acres.

St. John the Divine estimates the cost of the campus at $13 million. It is raising the money from contributions, a sale of part of the property for a charter school, the sale of the existing property and a loan to cover the gap.

The church sold property to Red Apple at Coastal LLC in October 2016 for $2.4 million for construction of Duval Charter School at Coastal.

The Rev. Nicholas Louh, the church’s senior pastor, said Thursday that St. John the Divine has been in Jacksonville for more than 100 years and at the Beach Boulevard location for 50 years.

He said the parish, with close to 400 families, is growing.

Louh said the new site will allow St. John the Divine to build upon its ministries, become more involved in the community and serve as a neighborhood church with the airnasium and preschool.

“I am from Jacksonville and one of the greatest joys for me is to serve the community I grew up in,” he said.

“My desire is to give back to our city, whether through our church or the ministries we provide,” he said.

 He said options are under consideration for the current site, including selling the property. “We haven’t made a decision about what we are going to do,” he said.

Louh said the sign for the church has been on the new site for years and the decision to build was based on securing funds and pledges.

A history on the website says the parish dates to the first Greek immigrants who arrived in the Jacksonville area at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. 

The earliest records of Greek Orthodox services in Jacksonville can be traced to 1907, it says.

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