‘A beacon of hope’: Work nearing completion on Hope Church buildings in downtown Albert Lea

Published 8:00 am Sunday, February 26, 2023

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Work is almost complete to transform two downtown Albert Lea buildings into Hope Church.

As of the end of December, about 80% of the project was finished, and Kaleb Hurley, lead pastor, hoped it would be complete by spring, though timelines are hard to predict sometimes with construction projects, he said.

According to Hurley, the footings have been renovated at both buildings on South Broadway.

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“We had to re-dig out all of the footings to be a different grade of concrete and a different depth so that we could support what we were doing on the other levels,” he said. “I think it was since 2021 when we started this we have done basically a complete gut of every level of every form of anything that was in the building in a complete reinstall.”

And re-digging out the basement footings and to have beams supporting the wall removal upstairs was the biggest surprise for him.

When completed, the new building will provide more room — the church has held its services at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center for over eight years.

“We can’t use the theater whenever we want,” he said.

Hurley is excited to have a space for youth, have an office in the building (the church’s offices are currently at 130 N. Broadway on the side of the shared Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chamber and Albert Lea Economic Development building) and to have an area for coffee.

Hurley said the children’s space will be triple what it currently is at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

In their current space, children ages 4 to 12 share the same room.

“Honestly, two of the spaces are bigger than that single space by itself,” he said. “But to be all together, it’s at least three times the size.”

Hurley did not know the exact footage of the new space, but estimated it around 5,000 square feet.

He said people were excited to be downtown and check out the building, though he admitted there would be others who don’t know what the church is doing or why they wanted a space downtown.

“I’m sure that if somebody was going to say something negative, they would avoid saying it to me,” he joked.

“Basically we built a new building around the brick.”

Hurley said the new building would be vibrant and unique, and said it would provide a multi-level, multi-generational facility for people.

“Hoping to use this facility … to further the kingdom of God and our community and to be a beacon of hope to those that are hurting,” he said.

And that’s why the building will be located where it is — 244 S. Broadway.

“We hope to bring life to downtown,” he said.

And by having it there, he hopes to help revitalize downtown.

He noted there were also already people walking around that could be hurting, broken or lost.

“I think that anybody that cares about Albert Lea being a place, especially when they care about broken people … I think they want to see there be opportunities for those people to be helped.”

It’s his hope to bring traffic to downtown that hasn’t been there.

“We believe in Albert Lea,” he said. “We want to see Albert Lea become a better place for people to live and we want to see it advance in every way.”

Demolition began in March 2021, though at the time there wasn’t a construction permit. Hurley declined to say how much the project cost, but admitted the price was more than the church planned for. The new church will be where the Community Cornerstone was on the corner of Broadway and Main Street, where AZ-One and the historic St. Paul Clothing House were located.

“We are thrilled to be on the corner of Main and Broadway, and this is most certainly something that we believe will be a real benefit to our downtown on so many levels,” Hurley said. “We’re excited to continue to stay downtown like we have been and to have a permanent home downtown.”

He hopes the new building will be ready by April 9 for Easter services.