FLINT TWP. — After more than 40 years of serving the community and about four years on the market, the Congregation Beth Israel Jewish synagogue, 5240 Calkins Road, is charting a new course.
The building which houses a temple, school and kitchen is being sold. Last week, the Flint Township Planning Commission approved a site plan from Charter School Property Development of Henderson Nevada.
The 13-acre property is slated to become the new home of Genesee Stem Academy, a charter school currently located on Oakley Street in Flint. It started in 2013 and is authorized by Saginaw Valley State University. Its curriculum focuses on the core content areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM).
Developers are facing a tight timeline to complete remodeling of the property in time for Academy classes to resume in mid-August, said Freeman Greer, an architect who presented the site plan to planning commissioners.
The Academy expects to have about 300 students next school year, said Laura Legardye, treasurer of the Academy’s school board, who was present at the site plan meeting.
The Academy currently has grades K- 7 and expects to add an eighth grade in the new facility. Legardye also noted that because it is a STEM school it needs space for science and technology labs. For now, some renovations will be made but the board also is looking at long-term additions to the site.
“We are growing so we are looking for a building that is conducive to our growth,’’ she said.
Discussion at the meeting mainly focused on landscaping buffers and driveways to the site to accommodate school buses and other traffic, as recommended by the road commission. The building has existing classroom space and its use is not expected to change much.
The facility includes a commercial sized kitchen, a sanctuary that holds nearly 400, a social hall that also holds about 400, office, a library, conference rooms, paved parking for about 270 cars and more.
As for the synagogue, its membership will relocate but not disband, said Leonard Meizlish, president of the congregation.
“We have been round now almost 100 years and will hopefully stay a good long time,” he said.
The facility was built in 1972, moving from Flint to remain close to members who had moved to the suburbs. Declining membership in recent years led to the decision to sell the building and move to smaller accommodations, said Meizlish, comparing it to parents facing an empty nest when children grow up and leave home.
Membership now stands at about 100 people, which is much smaller than it was in the 1960s and early 1970s when the 32,000 square-foot facility was built, he said.
The congregation is currently looking at new sites and expects to be settled by the fall.
“Everybody loves this building but it is much too big for us and very costly for us. That is the inevitability that everyone recognizes,’’ he said.