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WL Economic Development Commission approves Faith West deal

Faith Church has cleared another hurdle in order to build a nearly $12 million community center in West Lafayette. The city’s Economic Development Commission voted three-to-one in favor of issuing tax exempt bonds for the project.

Under the deal, Faith Church could acquire $7 million in tax exempt bond revenue to finance the project, and would be responsible for paying back the money.

Commission President Bill Baitinger voted “No,” saying it sets a bad precedent.

"By way of example, I believe we've only used economic development bonds twice in the past 30 years. In this case, I thought we had other means to do what they're trying to do."

The community center, known as Faith West, would include a daycare, health center, counseling services and three floors of single unit apartments.

Faith Church Senior Pastor Steve Viars says the issue still must pass a vote of the city council next month, so it’s not a done deal.

"I certainly don't want to presuppose the important work that the city council still has to do. They are good men and women, and they still have to review this, and we'll respect that part of the process. Then we'll see where we are."

Viars says they don't have a "Plan B," in case the bond issue fails. The church has raised nearly $5 million dollars from its members to help cover the cost of the project.

If the council does approve the bonds issue, Viars says construction could begin in July with the center opening next summer.

Under the agreement, the city would not be financially responsible for the bonds, and Viars says Faith Church has offered to cover any legal fees if there’s a legal challenge.

Roughly half a dozen people spoke in opposition to allowing the city to help the church acquire the tax exempt bonds. The West Lafayette City Council meeting is June 4 at 6:30 p.m.