Pastor willing to see church torn down for new development

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Sharon United Methodist Church owns 7 acres of land at the corner of Morrison Boulevard and Sharon Road.

The pastor said he wants to bring in a developer to create something new.

Jim Langstaff was a charter member of Sharon United Methodist Church about 50 years ago.

He's watched as buildings, restaurants and shopping has grown up around it. To fit in with the change, he's willing to watch the church he helped build be torn down.

"We have an opportunity to really serve so many people beyond those that come into the church," Langstaff said.

The church's pastor said he wants to tear down the buildings on the 7-acre campus then invite developers onto this prime property to build a new church as part of a mixed use project.

"It could be retail, restaurants, fitness," the Rev. Kyle Thompson said.

Thompson hopes the development will make the church more visible, more of a destination in the community.

"I hope we are as powerful in our community as South Park Mall and the church hopes sharing this space will help financially," said church member Kandy Steiner.

More of its money can go to mission work, not facility costs.

"That mix of uses would be great for South Park," said David Walters, a University of North Carolina at Charlotte urban design professor.

Walters said this is a fairly unique idea seen in just a few places nationwide. It's a model he thinks other churches in cities may use and it benefits the community.

"The more self-sustaining pieces of cities can become -- so you can live, work, play, worship, go to school all within a fairly reasonably convenient area," Walters said.

Thomas said churches in Chicago and Maryland are already doing something similar.

They plan to head to Chicago at the end of the month to see that church.