After two thwarted attempts at foreclosure and a slog through bankruptcy court, the Richmond Christian Center is headed to the auction block.
The 37,000-square-foot church building at 214 Cowardin St. near Manchester will be auctioned off this month after federal bankruptcy court ordered the property to be sold free and clear of any liens. It will be sold through a standard auction and not a foreclosure sale. The church’s creditors will retain a lien on the proceeds of the sale.
Motleys Asset Disposition Group is handling the auction. Online bidding will run from Nov. 13 to Nov. 20. Motley’s will hold a live, on-site auction on the sale’s final day.
“The plan is to use the auctioneer’s expertise to really create a market, drum up interest in a way a foreclosure sale wouldn’t,” said Kevin Funk, a DurretteCrump attorney representing the Christian Center.
In addition to its main church building, a cluster of smaller buildings owned by the Christian Center on both sides of West 19th Street and a row of parking lots on the southern side of Wall Street will be up for sale.
The Christian Center is also selling three surrounding vacant lots. One is on Cowardin Avenue across from the church, another is at 1916 Bainbridge St. and the third is 1919 Porter St. A single-family home at 3010 Stockton St. is also up for sale.
The Richmond Christian Center has sat sheltered in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since a lender last tried to foreclose on the building nearly a year ago in hopes of unloading it in some sort of open-market sale.
This is the third time the Christian Center will head toward an auction but the first time the church organization has been on board with the idea.
“What we’ve encountered is that a lot of people are sitting on the sidelines. We get some nibbles here and there but no real bites,” Funk said. “We concluded what we had to do was force people’s hands if they’re interested.”
Foundation Capital Resources, a Mississippi-based lender holding a $4.4 million mortgage on the property, tried to foreclose in September 2013 and again in November 2013. Both times the church filed eleventh-hour bankruptcies to stave off the sale.
Motleys will run a separate auction for each property, another auction that includes the entire collection of properties around the Christian Center campus, and a package that includes the church and the other scattered properties up for sale.
The properties will then be carved up and sold in whichever fashion brings the highest total sale price.
Tim Dudley, who is handling the sale for Motley’s, said it made sense to market the land in different pieces because the Christian Center’s campus has several different zoning designations that could bring different bidders to the table for each piece.
The church building itself is B-3 Business, two buildings behind the church are M-1 Light Industrial and most of the Christian Center’s parking lots are zoned R-53 Multifamily.
The Christian Center campus has so far drawn the most interest from suitors in higher education, Dudley said.
“The most amount of interest we’ve had is someone who wants to buy it and open it back up as a school, because that’s what it’s been used for in the past,” he said. “You could have small college there if you wanted to.”