By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
The former grocery store property that has sat idle in Kimberly for more than two years could soon become a house of worship.
The congregation at Church 29:11 in Mt. Olive is rapidly outgrowing its current facility and has been looking for a larger space for quite a while, according to pastor Rick Hand.
However, the first step would be for Kimberly to rezone the property from commercial to institutional.
To that end, the city has set two public hearings for January for the possible rezoning of the former IGA MarketPlace property, on U.S. Highway 31.
The first hearing is at the Kimberly Planning and Zoning Board meeting on Jan. 3, 6:30 p.m., at Kimberly City Hall. The planning and zoning board is an advisory group, and makes recommendations to the city council.
The city council will then hold a public hearing on Jan. 8, 6:25 p.m., at city hall, immediately prior to the regular city council meeting.
Both meetings are open to the public.
“We are extremely excited about potentially being a part of the vision the mayor and council has for the city,” said Hand. “They want to see things happen there that will be beneficial to the city. And our mission statement is to engage the community with the love of Jesus Christ. We feel like it matches Kimberly’s vision.”
IGA MarketPlace opened in October 2008 under owners Daniel Stone and Tracy Crane. The 35,000-square-foot grocery store has sat empty since Peoples Bank of Alabama foreclosed on the property in June 2010.
Several grocery stores and various retail stores have expressed interest in the property, with two grocers obtaining an independent market study on the property, according to Peoples Bank of Alabama president Chris J. Sawyer.
“Market studies indicated the Kimberly market was not large enough to support a grocery store,” Sawyer said. “Given that the property has been vacant for approximately two years and that there haven’t been any reasonable interest from any retail businesses to locate at this property over the past year, then Peoples Bank began entertaining interest from several churches in the surrounding area that were interested in relocating.”
Sawyer said the bank has suggested to the city of Kimberly that the best use of the property is “for a church that will promote the values and needs of the local community.”
As a result, Sawyer said, the bank is requesting the rezoning of the property.