PHOENIX - Some Valley residents are nervously eyeing plans for redevelopment in their area, as plans call for big changes to the land that churches currently sit on.
The area near 15th Avenue and Maryland, like many areas of the Valley, is churning with redevelopment and infill projects. The plan calls for a gated community of about 30 homes, and nearby, there is another church scheduled for demolition. That site is slated for the construction of multifamily units. While it's growth, not everyone sees it that way.
Shepherd of the Valley, located at 15th Avenue and Maryland, and Parkway Church, located at 17th Street and Maryland, are both set to be demolished to make way for housing developments. Tom Vojtko fears the multi-unit housing plan that replaces Parkway Church will ruin the neighborhood.
"Seeing the developments. I don't see how people can do this in the city. I mean, live on top of each other," said Vojtko.
Farther west at Shepherd of the Valley Church, several buildings will be demolished, but the main church will stay. The church's pastor didn't return calls, but Connie Garrett, who lives in the neighborhood, says the plan is to build about three dozen homes in a gated community, with a price range $400,000 to $500,000. While some neighbors don't mind the development, Garrett does.
Exterior of the Shepherd of the Valley Church
"We're all going to be looking at block wall out our windows. Yeah. No trees, two-story houses. We're sad. Very sad," said Garrett.
Garrett believes more churches are dealing with shrinking congregations, and are struggling to maintain the grounds and buildings of a church campus. So, they are selling to developers who are looking to build in a hot market like Phoenix.