On Nassau Street, a Catholic church has invested in reconfiguring its space, and a United Methodist church is expanding within its century-old building. On Lawrence Road, another Catholic church has added 36,000 square feet.

On Roszel Road, a small meditation group has bought space in an office building for its twice-weekly meetings. In progress on Clarksville Road, an 80-acre Jewish Community Center that will offer various social, fitness, educational, camp, and arts programs. On Route 1 South a Muslim center is building an 86,000-square-foot school for day and weekend students. Another Islamic group is planning a mosque and community center on Old Trenton Road in West Windsor.

Construction will begin soon on Bunn Drive as an evangelical Protestant church quadruples its current space. These expansions — and the ongoing expansion at Princeton Presbyterian church — declare that God is very much alive and well in Princeton.

St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church on Nassau Street is enjoying a transformation of its 60-year-old dingy church basement into a multi-use community space with a large flexible hall, three lounges, four meeting rooms, a library, a lobby, an ADA-compliant lift, and a complete media and audio center.

“The basement wasn’t a warm and welcoming spot, and there was a need for additional meeting spaces for our more than 50 parish ministries,” says Monsignor Joseph Rosie, who will celebrate his first Easter here. Monsignor Walter Nolan started the plans that were completed in 2010.

The Hispanic members of the church particularly appreciate their own suite of office and meeting rooms and, for the first time, all levels are accessible to the handicapped. Architect Joseph Saphire, of Saphire + Albarran, based at 12 North Main Street in Pennington (www.saphirealbarran.com) included some of his signature touches, such as a “comfy” room with a gas fireplace, and glass-walled rooms to expand a narrow corridor. The auditorium can hold 200 people for a reception and offers 60 theater-style seats that pull out from the wall.

The 700-seat sanctuary hosts daily Mass and seven weekly services (including one in Spanish); it serves just over 3,000 parish families, and about one-third of them are active in some ministry. The adjacent parish school, for kindergarten through eighth grade, has 375 students.

The Church of St. Ann on Lawrenceville Road is celebrating its 75th anniversary in a $6 million, 38,000 square-foot L-shaped addition that wraps around the original sanctuary and offers additional space to the adjacent parish school (pre-K through eighth grade).

Joseph Saphire, the architect who is also a church member, did the design, working with Father Vince Gartland to solve a big problem; the parking lot brought parishioners in from behind the altar. Now they process down a two-story sky-lit allee leading to a more compressed preparation space for entering the sanctuary. Along the glass-walled corridors are libraries, a cafe, a music room, an art studio, and places for quiet comfort. V.J. Scozzari & Sons did the construction.

Princeton United Methodist Church [where the congregation includes U.S. 1’s senior writer, Barbara Fox] is expanding within its century-old 26,000 square-foot building at Nassau and Vandeventer. Water damage had rendered part of its basement social hall unusable, and what remains is too small for many functions.

Plans are to reconfigure, expand, and air-condition the social hall, open it up for natural light, improve acoustics, create dedicated storage areas for the various groups that meet there — and update the kitchen, last renovated more than 25 years ago. The 550-member church is raising $800,000 in a capital campaign, and almost half of that is earmarked for these changes.

“At Princeton United Methodist Church our focus is on opening our doors to the community, nation, and world. Because of that we are currently restoring and renewing our building, so that we can reach out and welcome people in,” says Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash. “We look forward to starting a community meal in the next few months. We want the people who come here to feel welcome and at home.”

In September, The Islamic Society of Central New Jersey (ISCJ) will open the first phase of an 86,000 square foot school building with 52 classrooms and two laboratories; construction will cost $5 million.

The ISCJ has more than 1,500 families who pay a minimum of $500 annually and who worship in a 12,000 square-foot mosque on Route 1 South. Its Noor-Ul-Iman school, established 18 years ago, educates more than 500 students from pre-K through 12th grade; it meets in modular classrooms now.

In West Windsor, the Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS) New Jersey has won a use variance to develop a 30,000 square foot community center and mosque on Old Trenton Road. Construction is expected to begin in early 2013 and is expected to cost $3 to $4 million.

By the end of next year the Westerly Road Church expects to move from 10,000 square feet in the western section of Princeton to a 46,000 square foot two-story complex on Bunn Drive. The total cost is $19 million of which $11 million has already been raised.

The church has 250 members and attracts 500 (400 adults and 100 youth) weekly. Designed by Doylestown-based Mann Hughes, the sanctuary will seat 520 people. The 50-year-old non-denominational evangelical church struggled to get its site approval, and 7.5 of the 18 acres will be preserved.

The Princeton Meditation Group has purchased an office condo on the second floor of the building at 12 Roszel Road. Meditation services on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings promise that participants will recharge their body with energy, “awaken the mind’s unlimited power, and experience a deepening awareness of the Divine in your life,” according to the website.

This group belongs to the local branch of Self Realization Fellowship, founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda, who aimed “to reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.”

It’s been six years since the Jewish Community Center closed in Ewing, but now a new 80-acre JCC is being built on Clarksville Road. Lee Rosenfield is CEO of the facility (the Matthew and Staci Wilson Jewish Community Campus) and also of its principal occupant, named the Betty and Milton Katz JCC of Princeton Mercer Bucks.

Also sharing the campus will be offices for the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer.

New York-based Perkins Eastman designed the $28 million project with 80,000 square feet including a 500-seat auditorium, a gymnasium, an indoor swimming pool, an early childhood learning center, a parenting center, a health and wellness fitness center, and exercise and dance studios. “We will welcome all faiths and backgrounds,” says Rosenfield, “and we intend to have arts and cultural programs for the community at large.” After Phase 2 of the construction (outdoor facilities that include soccer, baseball, tennis, basketball, and a pool), the Abrams Day Camp will move from Rider University to the JCC campus.

Rosenfield emphasizes that the JCC will express universal values through a Jewish perspective but will not host worship services. Families who belong to a congregation — as well as those who don’t — all will be invited to participate in the various social, fitness, educational, and arts programs. He sees it as “a Jewish downtown, a place where families not engaged in organized Jewish life can feel comfortable and explore their participation. If we do it right it will inspire a more vibrant and engaged Jewish community.”

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