A 21,000-square-foot gym is planned for Guardian Christian Academy, a facility that will be available for the nonprofit XZone after-school program and other community... GCA building gym for community

A 21,000-square-foot gym is planned for Guardian Christian Academy, a facility that will be available for the nonprofit XZone after-school program and other community functions.

Wynne Lankford, the lead pastor at Southside Church of the Nazarene, which uses the 68,000-square-foot GCA building for services, spoke about the plans last week.

“Guardian is building it for the community,” he said. “We’re trying to impact and empower families to transform our world. We’re setting this up for the people of Chesterfield.”

“We have a dream to see the [293 acres] developed,” he said. “The desire is to be a Stony Point [Fashion Park]or Short Pump [Town Center] environment.”

A courtyard will be built outside the gym with seating and heaters and a coffee shop, which will be located inside the GCA building. The gym will include two basketball courts, a weight room, baseball training areas and a multipurpose athletic area. It will be used in conjunction with the GCA building.

“There’s nothing like it in this [eastern] end of the county,” local construction company owner Richard Smith said, calling it “an absolutely incredible location” at 6851 Courthouse Road between Route 288 and Route 10.

“We’re dead center in the county,” Lankford said.

“We believe in the project so much, we’re donating [thousands of hours of site work],” Smith said. He estimated the donation would be for around $400,000 worth of earthwork, paperwork, asphalt paving and involve installation of stormwater and sewer [drains], curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

The $1.7 million gym project – which recently started – has a target completion date in October.

Not only is a gymnasium planned, but XZone has a more long-term plan to put baseball and soccer fields and an adventure park on 100 acres of the 293-acre property, 250 of which GCA purchased in 2004.

XZone serves 500 kids a week during the school year, but will have room for more when the new gym opens. Currently XZone transports students from 14 area schools for after-school programs at GCA, which run from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays at a sliding-scale fee of $65 to $95 a week. It also has a summer program with 103 students.

“This … is a huge economic impact to the community,” XZone executive director Steve Harper said, noting that the nonprofit employs 25 to 30 people and GCA employs around 50.

GCA – which started in 1999 and has 248 students in grades K-12 – has a partnership set up with Eastern Nazarene College to offer classes on the campus beginning in the fall of 2020.

Lankford is a man of faith and action and the church’s ninth lead pastor. In addition to the partnership with XZone, Lankford – who has been with the church since 2002 and been lead pastor since 2015 – said he is looking for a partner to build an assisted living center on the property.

Southside Church started in a vacant barbershop on the corner of Bells Road and Jefferson Davis Highway in 1953 and later moved to Concord Avenue and Cogsbill Road before moving to its current location in 1999.

The church – which has services at 6 p.m. Saturday and 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday – also has a Celebrate Recovery meeting at 6:45 p.m. Friday for those with hurts, habits and hang-ups.