Formal announcement of a private school to serve south-central Missouri was postponed Monday as final details are worked out. The outlay is one of the biggest privately financed construction projects ever proposed for south-central Missouri, persons with knowledge of the project said.

The unveiling of plans for a multi-million dollar private school in Houston to serve southern Missouri was postponed Monday as some critical details were not finalized, said those familiar with the effort.

The project – believed to be one of the biggest privately financed projects ever undertaken in south-central Missouri – was to have been announced this Sunday at Faith Fellowship, which is to receive the building donation at the conclusion of construction. A letter mailed several days ago to community and civic leaders invited them to the ceremony.

Christ Academy is a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade school under development for about 18 months, said Pastor Bill Villapiano of Faith Fellowship.

Villapiano said Monday he wasn’t comfortable with a full release of the project until more pieces fall into place, and he was sending a letter out to postpone the event. “In planning this announcement, I believed there would be two significant investments in place: One, the architectural work that has been completed thus far, and two, the purchase of the property. The purchase of the property is not yet complete,” Villapiano said.

The pastor said the contract for a tract of property has an open-ended closing date, and a survey is still forthcoming. “A great deal of architectural plans and drawings have been designed and developed and represent a very sizeable investment by those offering to make this donation,” he said. “Again with the land still pending, there is only the one investment at this time. The architectural work has little value until the closing on the property. Because of this, I am not comfortable with moving forward with the announcement.” Villapiano said on the advice of the unidentified benefactor, whom he talked with Saturday, the decision was made to delay a formal announcement.

Hints of the development with few details have trickled through the community and southwest Missouri the last several weeks, and because of the rumor mill, the plan was set for release earlier than had been planned.

Villapiano, in the earlier letter to community leaders, calls the project “sizeable” and “will provide jobs and opportunities for years to come.”

Added Villapiano in the correspondence, “The size and scope of this project will have an immediate economic impact, but more importantly it will help to shape hearts and minds for generations to come.” Representatives of the architectural firms of Hollis and Miller Group, Overland Park, Kan., and Lee’s Summit, along with Springfield’s Esterly, Schneider and Associates, Springfield, are involved with the project. Malone, Finkle, Eckhardt & Collins in Springfield is the mechanical and electrical engineering firm.

A general contractor has been hired for the project.

“Being beneficiaries of their proposed gift, we are still very grateful and honored to be offered such a trust and believe that this is a pause in the process,” Villapiano said. “We want to thank the many who have offered their support and congratulations. I especially want to extend our gratitude to the Houston School District whose response was very gracious, revealing the character our community is known for.”

Villapiano said he had hoped the land deal would be in place, along with the architectural plans. “Without both of them, the announcement would be premature. Once in place, we will be ready to announce the project and reveal the architectural drawings,” he said.

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