ST. CLOUD -- The plan to build the first new building on the St. Cloud Cathedral campus in over 50 years has taken another step forward. The St. Cloud City Planning Commission unanimously approved amending the existing PUD for the project.

The city council and the St. Cloud Diocese are both expected to vote on the plans in the next month or so.

Director of the Capital Campaign Marit Ortega says the final approval may have to come from the Pope himself.

If there are any building projects in the Catholic Diocese where it has a $3 million or more project budget it does have to get approved by the Pope.  So we've had plenty of volunteers raising their hand saying they'd travel there.

However, Ortega says Vatican approval is only needed if Cathedral needs to finance the project. They have $5.3 million left to raise toward their $16.5 million goal, if they manage to raise 100% of their goal before they break ground, they won't need to go to Rome.

Construction could start as soon as this fall, on the site of the current parking lot, between the gym building and the 1938 building.

Ortega says a new learning space for the Cathedral students is long overdue.

We are absolutely due.  And the reality is we've got Tech High School coming up and we've got Sartell High School coming up with big brand new facilities.  This is absolutely needed for us to remain competitive in the world of high schools in our area.

Ortega says all of the current buildings on campus will be staying. Also, the tunnels that connect the buildings will be preserved. The parking lot will be moved to the area north of the gym, which is known as "the pit".

Ortega says, after two previously failed attempts, the timing is right this time around.

It's been quite the process, it began eight to nine years ago.  So we're taking it slow, but we're doing it right, and we've gotten all of the key players involved.

The new building will house the engineering, visual arts, and science classes as well as a chapel and the administrative offices.

If they are able to break ground by September, it could be done by the fall of next year.

Future phases could include an expansion of the Holy Angels building and new athletic facilities.