Scott’s Addition’s popularity is extending to the pulpit.
As the fast-transitioning neighborhood continues to lure young professionals, Goochland-based Hope Church is likewise looking at Scott’s Addition to better reach that demographic and find a permanent home for its fledgling Hope Midtown congregation.
The 20-year-old church near West Creek Business Park launched Hope Midtown, an urban offshoot, about 18 months ago. It has been looking for a permanent home for the group, which meets Sunday mornings at Thomas Jefferson High School, just west of Scott’s Addition.
Pastor Micah Voraritskul, who leads Hope Midtown’s Sunday services and community outreach, said the search resulted from the church’s decision to branch out with a physical presence in the city–as opposed to expanding its Goochland campus, where it recently added a building and expanded its children’s wing.
“Our West Creek campus was at five services on a weekend, and we were facing this decision of, are we going to build a larger auditorium out on the Goochland County line, or do we want to fulfill our original vision as a church, which was to be a movement in our city that engaged people of all demographics, of all socioeconomic strata,” Voraritskul said.
“Scott’s Addition represents the area of the city that really is happening right now, in terms of the demographics of people that I think a lot of churches are missing. People between the ages of 19 and 35, the church is missing them in a huge way,” he said.
The church is conducting its search with Kyle Burns of NAI Eagle. Burns, who attends Hope Church, said they’ve stepped up that search in the past six months.
“We’ve identified a handful of sites that would work and are really just finalizing what the requirements really are,” Burns said. “It’s kind of a moving target as to what facility the church would fit in and matching up with the environment we’re trying to reach.”
Voraritskul said the location would require between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet–to seat about 400 people. He said Hope Midtown sees about 300 adults at its Sunday services and has a constituency between 500 and 600.
By comparison, Hope’s Goochland church averages 2,500 adults and several hundred children on Sundays, Voraritskul said. He said Hope Church’s youth program totals 300 to 400 teens.
A memo reviewing Hope Midtown’s first year states the search vetted more than 30 properties in the midtown area, including Scott’s Addition. Voraritskul said the church expects the location to cost between $2 million and $3 million.
“As you’re looking for real estate in this area of town, you’re either looking at a 60,000-square-foot building or a 5,000-square-foot building. There’s hardly anything in that 15,000 to 20,000 square feet that is suitable,” he said. “We’re thinking if we had to pay $1.5 million for a building, it would probably take another $1 million or so to get it to where it would be a viable church location.”
Funds for the effort would need to be raised or financed, Voraritskul said. The church is nearing the end of its Hope Places capital campaign, which has raised just under its $10 million target since launching in 2015. The campaign has about $50,000 left to go and runs through the end of this year.
The bulk of those funds paid for the Goochland campus children’s wing expansion and the new standalone building, which Voraritskul said is used for middle- and high-school students. He said each of those projects cost between $4 million and $5 million.
The remainder of the funds was used to launch Hope Midtown, but Voraritskul said more funds would be needed to pay for a permanent midtown location.
While prices in Scott’s Addition have increased in recent years, as more buildings have been rehabbed and new developments have risen, Burns said the church would not be priced out of the neighborhood.
“I don’t think it would be fair to say that, just because they’re a church, they can’t afford Scott’s Addition,” he said. “I think the financial capacity for a church that has as many members as Hope does is pretty strong.”
Burns said prices in his search have ranged from $17 to $22 per square foot for office space, depending on the age and quality of the building. He said prices range wider with industrial and retail spaces.
While his eyes are set on Scott’s Addition, Voraritskul said he wants to bring Hope Church to the city’s midtown, areas of which he said are underserved.
In Scott’s Addition, churches are scarce, with at least one in operation: the Alpha and Omega Missions Bible Church at 2944 W. Marshall St., in the former Boulevard Baptist Church building. Its weekly congregation exceeds 100, according to the church’s website.
Another church, Unity Baptist, met at 1301 Roseneath Road until it was replaced by The Veil Brewing Co., one of several breweries, distilleries and cideries that have moved into the neighborhood.
“The church at large has struggled to be effective with that demographic in this area,” Voraritskul said. “There are a number of churches in this area, both traditional and contemporary, and we’re all wrestling with how to engage this demographic in a more relevant way.
“We’ve been able to do a lot of really cool things with Richmond Public Schools and Thomas Jefferson High School, and now we’re looking for a permanent home, because we love this area of the city,” he said. “We’re really looking and hoping and praying we can find something as soon as possible.”