Megachurch bids big on Christian Center

Richmond Christian Center's attorney Kevin Funk (left) greets auctioneer Tim Dudley of Motleys at the Richmond Christian Center. Photos by Evelyn Rupert.

Richmond Christian Center’s attorney Kevin Funk (left) greets auctioneer Tim Dudley of Motleys at the Richmond Christian Center. Photos by Evelyn Rupert.

A troubled Southside church has found its savior.

The Richmond Christian Center property on Cowardin Avenue was purchased at auction on Thursday for $2.15 million.

The buyer was Mountain of Blessings Christian Center, a church that currently operates in Eastern Henrico. It has a six-figure renovation in mind for the 37,000-square-foot property that Pastor Dimitri Bradley said will be easier for its geographically scattered congregation to reach.

“This will make us more central, honestly,” Bradley said. “We have people that drive from deep in Chesterfield and pay three tolls to go to church.”

In addition to the main Richmond Christian Center church building, Mountain of Blessings also bought a cluster of smaller buildings that were part of the auction on both sides of West 19th Street and a row of parking lots on the southern side of Wall Street.

Another three vacant lots were also included in the sale. One is on Cowardin Avenue across from the church, another is at 1916 Bainbridge St. and a third is at 1919 Porter St. A single-family home at 3010 Stockton St. was also rolled into the sale.

Representatives from the Mountain of Blessings Christian Center

Representatives from the Mountain of Blessings Christian Center discuss bids at Thursday’s auction.

Sperry Van Ness/Motleys handled the auction that opened to online bidding on Nov. 13 and closed with a live, onsite auction Thursday afternoon. Tim Dudley, who oversaw the sale for Motleys, said the site drew interest from church groups, schools and real estate investors.

The sale is expected to close in 30 days. Bradley said he was unsure when Mountain of Blessings would begin holding services on Cowardin.

Mountain of Blessings is currently at 4700 Oakleys Lane, between the Shops at White Oak Village and Richmond International Airport in Eastern Henrico. The church has operated at that site for about 10 years and bought the 5.5-acre campus in 2005, Henrico County records show.

Mountain of Blessings has not yet decided if it will vacate its East End location or continue to use both locations. Bradley said Mountain of Blessings has a congregation of about 2,300.

The congregation has had its eye on the Richmond Christian Center for about a year now, said Kristy Cosley, a broker with Jones Realty and Construction Corp. Cosley and Jones Realty president Clarke Jones III represented Mountain of Blessings in the purchase.

The auction was ordered by a U.S. bankruptcy court and followed a 14-month saga that began when lender Foundation Capital Resources first tried to foreclose on the Richmond Christian Center last September. The church twice filed last-minute bankruptcies to block a pair of foreclosures beginning in September 2013.

Foundation Capital was left holding the bag on a defaulted $4.4 million loan the church took out in September 2005 and has since defaulted on.

Thursday’s sale ended any lien Foundation Capital Resources could claim on the former Christian Center real estate. The church’s creditors instead retain a lien on the proceeds from the sale.

Since the bankruptcy process began, an entity owned by Pastor Stephen Parson’s son also sold a collection of properties immediately north of the church to Mini-Price Storage for $850,000. It was a lucrative property flip for Parson Jr., who bought the 17 parcels of real estate from the Christian Center for just $180,000 three years ago.

The church claimed it only intended to sell one of those parcels to Parson Jr. and the other 16 were included by mistake. Foundation Capital has since filed a suit against Parson Jr. in an attempt to recapture the proceeds from his sale to Mini-Price.

Meanwhile, Mini-Price has started building a storage facility on the site.

That case was put on hold pending yesterday’s auction after both sides asked for a continuance to see how much cash the auction would bring in.

Richmond Christian Center's attorney Kevin Funk (left) greets auctioneer Tim Dudley of Motleys at the Richmond Christian Center. Photos by Evelyn Rupert.

Richmond Christian Center’s attorney Kevin Funk (left) greets auctioneer Tim Dudley of Motleys at the Richmond Christian Center. Photos by Evelyn Rupert.

A troubled Southside church has found its savior.

The Richmond Christian Center property on Cowardin Avenue was purchased at auction on Thursday for $2.15 million.

The buyer was Mountain of Blessings Christian Center, a church that currently operates in Eastern Henrico. It has a six-figure renovation in mind for the 37,000-square-foot property that Pastor Dimitri Bradley said will be easier for its geographically scattered congregation to reach.

“This will make us more central, honestly,” Bradley said. “We have people that drive from deep in Chesterfield and pay three tolls to go to church.”

In addition to the main Richmond Christian Center church building, Mountain of Blessings also bought a cluster of smaller buildings that were part of the auction on both sides of West 19th Street and a row of parking lots on the southern side of Wall Street.

Another three vacant lots were also included in the sale. One is on Cowardin Avenue across from the church, another is at 1916 Bainbridge St. and a third is at 1919 Porter St. A single-family home at 3010 Stockton St. was also rolled into the sale.

Representatives from the Mountain of Blessings Christian Center

Representatives from the Mountain of Blessings Christian Center discuss bids at Thursday’s auction.

Sperry Van Ness/Motleys handled the auction that opened to online bidding on Nov. 13 and closed with a live, onsite auction Thursday afternoon. Tim Dudley, who oversaw the sale for Motleys, said the site drew interest from church groups, schools and real estate investors.

The sale is expected to close in 30 days. Bradley said he was unsure when Mountain of Blessings would begin holding services on Cowardin.

Mountain of Blessings is currently at 4700 Oakleys Lane, between the Shops at White Oak Village and Richmond International Airport in Eastern Henrico. The church has operated at that site for about 10 years and bought the 5.5-acre campus in 2005, Henrico County records show.

Mountain of Blessings has not yet decided if it will vacate its East End location or continue to use both locations. Bradley said Mountain of Blessings has a congregation of about 2,300.

The congregation has had its eye on the Richmond Christian Center for about a year now, said Kristy Cosley, a broker with Jones Realty and Construction Corp. Cosley and Jones Realty president Clarke Jones III represented Mountain of Blessings in the purchase.

The auction was ordered by a U.S. bankruptcy court and followed a 14-month saga that began when lender Foundation Capital Resources first tried to foreclose on the Richmond Christian Center last September. The church twice filed last-minute bankruptcies to block a pair of foreclosures beginning in September 2013.

Foundation Capital was left holding the bag on a defaulted $4.4 million loan the church took out in September 2005 and has since defaulted on.

Thursday’s sale ended any lien Foundation Capital Resources could claim on the former Christian Center real estate. The church’s creditors instead retain a lien on the proceeds from the sale.

Since the bankruptcy process began, an entity owned by Pastor Stephen Parson’s son also sold a collection of properties immediately north of the church to Mini-Price Storage for $850,000. It was a lucrative property flip for Parson Jr., who bought the 17 parcels of real estate from the Christian Center for just $180,000 three years ago.

The church claimed it only intended to sell one of those parcels to Parson Jr. and the other 16 were included by mistake. Foundation Capital has since filed a suit against Parson Jr. in an attempt to recapture the proceeds from his sale to Mini-Price.

Meanwhile, Mini-Price has started building a storage facility on the site.

That case was put on hold pending yesterday’s auction after both sides asked for a continuance to see how much cash the auction would bring in.

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