• Clermont will vote to buy struggling church, leaders say


    CLERMONT, Fla. - A struggling church in Clermont could soon be city-owned property for $6 million.

    City leaders will discuss buying Celebration of Praise Church to turn it into a recreational center.

    The city manager said the community asked for it during meetings all summer.

    Residents said city leaders wanted a number of things from indoor courts to a bigger venue for theater productions and this place has all of that under one roof.

    Clermont City Manager Darren Gray said the proposal to buy the church and turn it into a city recreation center is a great deal.

    "It was going into a foreclosure sale and it was something that someone brought to my attention to go check it out," Gray said.

    Gray said when he took a tour, he was blown away. The property is 68,000-square-feet and comes with a gym, a pool, an auditorium and other amenities.

    "It would be the largest indoor facility in Lake County with that 1,200 (capacity) auditorium," Gray said.

    The price tag for the project is around $6.3 million -- a price, city officials said, that is cheaper than if they tried to build it from the ground up.

    Gray said that would cost a third more.

    We asked residents what they think about the proposal and the cost.

    "I think it would be worth it," resident Marilyn Corrie said.

    "I definitely feel like it would be worth it, I would definitely go there and bring my son," resident Derek Michelson said.

    The people Eyewitness News spoke with said they believe this type of rec center could help keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.

    "Anything to help out the kids around here, give them a safe place to plan and swim, whatever it may be, something positive for the community," Michelson said.

    Officials have inspected the place and they say they will vote on it Dec. 10. If it passes, they could close by the end of the month. They said they would allow the church to temporarily lease it.

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    Clermont will vote to buy struggling church, leaders say