ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The plan to turn a vacant church into a treatment center has taken a step forward.

During Tuesday night's Planning Commission meeting, there was a public hearing to allow the use of the former Methodist Church as a 48-bed inpatient treatment and out-patient treatment center.

Brian Schoenborn is the President of the East 300 Block and owner of the building. He says the vision of the 5th Avenue Live project began in 2005 and included the new Holiday StationStore and Cloud on 5th Apartments. He calls this the last chapter in the project.

Schoenborn says the inspiration to bring a treatment center to the project happened about a year-and-a-half ago when Mack Motzko and his friend were killed in a car crash in the Twin Cities.

The person who killed Mack and Sam was high and drunk.  Immediately he went into rehab and is now spending 11 years in the Stillwater State Prison.  So his life has exploded, the Motzko's lives have exploded, and many people's lives have exploded.  What are we doing to make a difference to turn the tide?

Schoenborn says the original plan was to tear the building down, but now they want to invest $17 million to renovate it.

Several people who live in the neighborhood also spoke during the public hearing with mixed reviews on the project.

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The planning commission approved the request unanimously so it now moves on to the city council for another public hearing.

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