The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno is reviving plans to build a new church on this 17-acre parcel in south Visalia. Photo by Bridget Butler-Sullivan
Written by David Castellon
The Visalia Planning Commission has approved changes to a conditional use permit that will allow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno to go forward with plans to build its largest-ever church — in Visalia.
“The Planning Commission liked what it saw,” with its five members unanimously approving the changes during a meeting Monday night, said Andy Chamberlain, a senior planner with the City of Visalia.
City officials first issued the permit in 2008 on the diocese’ plans to convert a grassy, 17-acre, church-owned parcel off the southeast corner of South Akers Street and Caldwell Avenue into a church complex that initially was supposed to include a 25,500-square-foot church building capable of seating 2,200, a Catholic elementary school, parish hall and other buildings.
Due to difficulties in collecting enough donations to pay for the church, only the less-expensive parish hall was built, and church services have been held there since shortly after construction was completed in 2011.
Under the revisions to the conditional use permit, the planned St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church will be larger — 33,983 square feet — and capable of seating 3,392 parishioners.
Because of the larger church size and more room needed to accommodate additional parking spaces, church officials are scaling back their plans on the additional buildings, which includes scrapping plans to build a school on the site.
Officials with the Catholic diocese estimate construction costs of the church building alone at $13 million, with a goal of breaking ground some time in mid 2018.
In the meantime, the diocese has hired a marketing firm to help solicit donations to pay for construction.
To find out more about the planned St. Charles Borromeo Catholic church in Visalia, and to find out how to donate to its construction fund, go online to stcharlesvisalia.com.