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St. Paul’s Church is expected to be ready by October

Photo: St. Paul’s Church, currently under construction on Flamevine Lane.

Pastor Jon Robbins said Monday he’s hoping to hold the first public services in the new St. Paul’s Church, currently under construction on Flamevine Lane, on Oct. 8.

He said he expects the project to be completed in September, but he needs at least a couple of weeks to “let the dust settle” and put the finishing touches on the interior design.

“The construction has been moving along nicely, and we’re super-happy with the way the building is coming out,” Robbins said. “I know some people aren’t thrilled with a church being built there, but we’re getting lots of positive feedback on the building.

“Our goal now is for the interior of the church to be as beautiful as the exterior.”

Robbins held a groundbreaking ceremony on the site – just west of Ocean Drive – in May 2016, after the church finally secured a shared-parking agreement with a neighboring business, the Amalgamated Realty Corporation.

The Anglican church has room for only 20 parking spaces on its property, but the agreement provides enough parking to accommodate its 150-seat sanctuary. The 6,500-square-foot, two-story building also will include administrative offices and classrooms on the second floor.

St. Paul’s has “just over 100” members, Robbins said, but not all of them are regular church goers. He said Sunday services, which are held at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., usually attract “80 to 85” worshipers during the winter months and “60 to 65” during the summer.

Robbins said that “except for a few stragglers who might stay around to socialize,” most Sunday church goers will have vacated their parking spaces by 12:30 p.m. The lots also will be used on Wednesdays, he added, but not until after 5:30 p.m. St. Paul’s leaders and members of the congregation are “sensitive” to the concerns of their beachside business district neighbors.

The St. Paul’s ministry was established five years ago with Robbins as its rector – the Anglican Church’s title for pastor – and held services in a conference room at the old Surf Club Hotel until the former Best Western and Vero Beach Inn was sold in March 2015 and torn down.

The church then moved its services to the Garden Club of Indian River County, where they are expected to remain until the new building is completed.

St. Paul’s had been seeking a permanent home for more than a year when a donor stepped forward during the first half of 2014 and gave the church the $1 million it needed to purchase the then-vacant property at 969-999 Flamevine Lane. The sale was completed in July 2014.

Before the donation, St. Paul’s had seriously considered relocating to the mainland, where it eyed two more-affordable properties, only for those deals to fall through.

Robbins said St. Paul’s wants to be a good neighbor. To that end, the church did not oppose a proposal by city planners who, more than two years ago, successfully pushed to amend the city code to allow new businesses licensed to sell alcohol to operate within 500 feet of places of worship.