The shell of the former Wade Pottery factory in Watson Street is being demolished to make way for a new £4 million, 1,000-seater church.
Portadown Elim Pentecostal Church has lodged plans for the building which – along with car parking and ancillary activities - will occupy most of the 4.6-acre site.
Work on the Edenderry site is due to start next summer and will take 18 months to two years to complete, after which the congregation will vacate the current premises at Clonavon Avenue.
It is almost certain to receive planning permission which is now the responsibility of the ABC Council.
The Elims bought the site two years ago, “after an offer out of the blue”. It was reported that negotiations with neighbouring church, First Portadown (Edenderry) Presbyterian, had petered out.
Elim church elder Mr Rodney Robinson said, “We and First Portadown will, of course, be good neighbours, with two major churches concentrated in the same area. Our church at Clonavon Avenue is bursting at the seams.
“We are restricted to a maximum of around 600, and while we won’t require 1,000 seats for all our activities, we will include a ‘partitioning’ scheme which will allow us to sub-divide the premises in various permutations.”
He added, “We have a wide variety of activities, embracing the elderly, youth, young families, a crèche and various prayer meetings. The move will concentrate our activities on one site and we are really relishing it.”
Pastor Stuart Argue said the development marked around 100 years of the Elims in town.
It began at the Clonavon Avenue site with building work in 1917, “which emerged from the Welsh revival”.However, the real expansion of the church in town has been over the past three decades.
The Clonavon Avenue church was built in the mid-1980s. Properties like the adjacent Gaedor wholesale premises and the former St Patrick’s Hall were later purchased as well as a number of houses in Clonavon Avenue. These will all go on the market as the Edenderry project develops.
It also gives a shot in the arm to the Watson Street-Joseph Street area, which was virtually dormant before the recent development of the Asda store. And it brings life to the Wade site which has been derelict since the factory finally closed in 1993. It began life as Armstrong’s linen factory in 1860, with Wade’s taking over in 1947.