Two suitors are lined up for a troubled Manchester church’s sizable real estate holdings, including a prominent local development company.
Genesis Properties is one of the potential buyers in talks with bankruptcy trustees to purchase the Richmond Christian Center real estate portfolio, which amounts to 16 parcels in the Southside neighborhood, most notably its main sanctuary at 214 Cowardin Ave.
Court filings in the church’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case last week identified Genesis, as well as United Nations Church International, a congregation housed at 5200 Midlothian Turnpike, as having submitted draft contracts to the trustee with offers that are currently under consideration.
Bankruptcy filings say UNCI seeks to buy the properties and merge with RCC.
Genesis, which has a track record of development projects in Manchester that includes Hatcher Tobacco Flats at 151 W. Commerce Road and the Lofts at Trolley Station at 212 W. 7th St., would likely look to redevelop the RCC parcels, though the company was not ready last week to discuss specific plans.
“We are finalizing terms with the trustee to work out an acquisition of the property,” said Genesis development director Ed Solarz. “But there’s still a lot to figure out. I cannot comment on the scope of what we would do with the site.”
Attorney Chris Perkins of LeClairRyan, who is represented Chapter 11 trustee Bruce Matson, said the bankruptcy estate requested and received approval at a hearing last week for additional time to consider the two contracts to determine which one is in the best interest of the church and its creditors.
The judge set the deadline for consideration to Nov. 7, and the trustee expects to close the deal with one of the buyers by the end of the year.
The court filings did not disclose the offering prices from UNCI and Genesis.
At stake is the future of the RCC congregation, at least at its longtime Manchester home.
The former car dealership was converted into a 44,000-square-foot sanctuary. It’s the centerpiece of the church’s surrounding real estate holdings, consisting of mostly empty commercial and residential lots and small commercial buildings, all totaling about 5 acres with a combined assessed value of around $4 million.
Those properties serve as collateral on a loan from Foundation Capital Resources, the lender and main creditor whose renewed efforts to foreclose on the RCC holdings were prompted by the congregation missing revenue marks and falling out of compliance with its court-approved bankruptcy reorganization plan.
RCC’s troubles date back to at least 2013, when FCR first threatened to foreclose after the loan went into default. Then-RCC pastor Stephen Parson Sr. put the church into bankruptcy at that time.
Parson has since become a controversial figure within the church and throughout its bankruptcy proceedings.
Parson was exiled as a leader of the church as a condition of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan, a condition FCR was adamant about. According to the agreed-upon terms of the reorganization plan, as long as FCR remains the holder of the loan to RCC, Parson cannot be involved in the church.
He has since fought to regain control, arguing that the church’s original articles of incorporation name him as lifetime pastor of RCC. He’s gone as far as filing arguments in the bankruptcy court docket to have his claims formally considered.
However, the court last week denied Parson’s motion to be reinstated as the church’s pastor.