Lewis Ginter to expand with $1.9M deal to buy adjacent church property

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden plans to buy the adjacent Lakeside Baptist Church, in the foreground, for $1.9 million to expand its campus. (Photo courtesy of Henrico County)

As Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, nothing is certain except death and taxes.

Robert Jones would add a third certainty to life, one that has led to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s largest expansion since it opened in 1987.

“I believe there are three things guaranteed in this world for all of us: taxes, death and change,” said Jones, a member of the board of trustees of the garden’s neighbor, Lakeside Baptist Church.

Change is what prompted the church to sell its 6.2-acre property at 7401 Woodman Road to the garden, in a deal that was announced Thursday.

Lewis Ginter plans to pay Lakeside Baptist $1.9 million to buy the property, which features land, and a sanctuary and classroom that total about 24,000 square feet. The transfer is set to take place in July 2025.

The church largely shuttered early in the pandemic, and the congregation found itself smaller when it reopened in early 2021. Conversations about the church’s future turned to a sale of the property.

“Like many churches we shut down, except for our daycare. Our daycare continued to provide services for people who had to have their children somewhere so they could do their jobs,” Jones said. “We got to looking at our congregation after we opened up one year later and we were fewer and we were older.”

The church pitched a land sale to Lewis Ginter about a year ago and the two sides quietly struck a deal this summer.

“All of us agreed in the beginning the first person we would talk to would be Lewis Ginter because of our relationship with them, because we believed in what they were doing,” Jones said.

The $1.9 million purchase price includes $750,000 to be put up by Henrico County, in which the garden resides. The county portion will be doled out over three years. Lewis Ginter plans to kick off a fundraising campaign to line up the rest of the money.

“The Board of Supervisors recognized the opportunity before us when we learned the garden and the church were discussing a possible land transfer,” Supervisor Frank Thornton said in remarks during Thursday’s announcement at Lewis Ginter. “We understood that Henrico benefits from having a vibrant, community-oriented garden.”

Henrico County Supervisor Frank Thornton shares remarks at the podium during Thursday’s ceremony to announce Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s plan to buy the next-door Lakeside Baptist Church. (Jack Jacobs photo)

The church property is adjacent to Lewis Ginter and is situated on the northwest side of the garden’s 82 acres at 1800 Lakeside Ave., about 50 of which are public spaces dedicated to plant life. Thornton said the garden attracted 390,000 visitors, including school trips, last year.

Supervisor Dan Schmitt said Henrico wanted to help with funding to allow Lewis Ginter to quickly move to secure the property. He noted the acquisition gives Lewis Ginter the makings of another entrance, which would help the garden manage visitation to its facilities.

“The garden is in a very good fiscal position but they weren’t fiscally prepared to make an immediate acquisition,” said Schmitt, who is also on the Lewis Ginter Board of Directors. “It locks in the access for the garden, it locks in the land acquisition. And quite frankly, no one wanted to see development right there next to the garden in that neighborhood.”

Schmitt likened Henrico’s support of Lewis Ginter to its other public-private partnerships to support community assets, pointing to the nearby Belmont Golf Course as an example. Henrico owns the course but the course is managed by First Tee.

“We’re starting to do public-private partnerships pretty well,” Schmitt said. “The county is good at government. We don’t know how to manage a garden or a golf course.”

After his remarks at the event, Lewis Ginter President and CEO Brian Trader said the church might continue worship on the property as a tenant for several more years after it transfers.

“We have talked about that. We haven’t finalized that agreement yet. Their congregation over time has really dwindled and it’s an aging congregation. So, I’m hopeful they can continue to worship there at the property even beyond the 2025 mark.”

Trader said eventually Lewis Ginter would renovate the property to serve as facilities for its own operations, though conversations are ongoing about that use.

“This would allow us to save some of the green space and preserve that and retrofit the church for future needs of the garden,” Trader said.

Trader said he approached Schmitt about whether Henrico could help with the acquisition and that kicked off conversations about the county’s participation in the deal.

Jones said in his remarks the church doesn’t plan to dissolve and wants to use money made off the sale to support charities through the Virginia Baptist Foundation.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden plans to buy the adjacent Lakeside Baptist Church, in the foreground, for $1.9 million to expand its campus. (Photo courtesy of Henrico County)

As Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, nothing is certain except death and taxes.

Robert Jones would add a third certainty to life, one that has led to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s largest expansion since it opened in 1987.

“I believe there are three things guaranteed in this world for all of us: taxes, death and change,” said Jones, a member of the board of trustees of the garden’s neighbor, Lakeside Baptist Church.

Change is what prompted the church to sell its 6.2-acre property at 7401 Woodman Road to the garden, in a deal that was announced Thursday.

Lewis Ginter plans to pay Lakeside Baptist $1.9 million to buy the property, which features land, and a sanctuary and classroom that total about 24,000 square feet. The transfer is set to take place in July 2025.

The church largely shuttered early in the pandemic, and the congregation found itself smaller when it reopened in early 2021. Conversations about the church’s future turned to a sale of the property.

“Like many churches we shut down, except for our daycare. Our daycare continued to provide services for people who had to have their children somewhere so they could do their jobs,” Jones said. “We got to looking at our congregation after we opened up one year later and we were fewer and we were older.”

The church pitched a land sale to Lewis Ginter about a year ago and the two sides quietly struck a deal this summer.

“All of us agreed in the beginning the first person we would talk to would be Lewis Ginter because of our relationship with them, because we believed in what they were doing,” Jones said.

The $1.9 million purchase price includes $750,000 to be put up by Henrico County, in which the garden resides. The county portion will be doled out over three years. Lewis Ginter plans to kick off a fundraising campaign to line up the rest of the money.

“The Board of Supervisors recognized the opportunity before us when we learned the garden and the church were discussing a possible land transfer,” Supervisor Frank Thornton said in remarks during Thursday’s announcement at Lewis Ginter. “We understood that Henrico benefits from having a vibrant, community-oriented garden.”

Henrico County Supervisor Frank Thornton shares remarks at the podium during Thursday’s ceremony to announce Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s plan to buy the next-door Lakeside Baptist Church. (Jack Jacobs photo)

The church property is adjacent to Lewis Ginter and is situated on the northwest side of the garden’s 82 acres at 1800 Lakeside Ave., about 50 of which are public spaces dedicated to plant life. Thornton said the garden attracted 390,000 visitors, including school trips, last year.

Supervisor Dan Schmitt said Henrico wanted to help with funding to allow Lewis Ginter to quickly move to secure the property. He noted the acquisition gives Lewis Ginter the makings of another entrance, which would help the garden manage visitation to its facilities.

“The garden is in a very good fiscal position but they weren’t fiscally prepared to make an immediate acquisition,” said Schmitt, who is also on the Lewis Ginter Board of Directors. “It locks in the access for the garden, it locks in the land acquisition. And quite frankly, no one wanted to see development right there next to the garden in that neighborhood.”

Schmitt likened Henrico’s support of Lewis Ginter to its other public-private partnerships to support community assets, pointing to the nearby Belmont Golf Course as an example. Henrico owns the course but the course is managed by First Tee.

“We’re starting to do public-private partnerships pretty well,” Schmitt said. “The county is good at government. We don’t know how to manage a garden or a golf course.”

After his remarks at the event, Lewis Ginter President and CEO Brian Trader said the church might continue worship on the property as a tenant for several more years after it transfers.

“We have talked about that. We haven’t finalized that agreement yet. Their congregation over time has really dwindled and it’s an aging congregation. So, I’m hopeful they can continue to worship there at the property even beyond the 2025 mark.”

Trader said eventually Lewis Ginter would renovate the property to serve as facilities for its own operations, though conversations are ongoing about that use.

“This would allow us to save some of the green space and preserve that and retrofit the church for future needs of the garden,” Trader said.

Trader said he approached Schmitt about whether Henrico could help with the acquisition and that kicked off conversations about the county’s participation in the deal.

Jones said in his remarks the church doesn’t plan to dissolve and wants to use money made off the sale to support charities through the Virginia Baptist Foundation.

Your subscription has expired. Renew now by choosing a subscription below!

For more informaiton, head over to your profile.

Profile


SUBSCRIBE NOW

TERMS OF SERVICE:

ALL MEMBERSHIPS RENEW AUTOMATICALLY. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR A 1 YEAR MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL AT THE RATE IN EFFECT AT THAT TIME UNLESS YOU CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP BY LOGGING IN OR BY CONTACTING [email protected]

ALL CHARGES FOR MONTHLY OR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS ARE NONREFUNDABLE.

EACH MEMBERSHIP WILL ONLY FUNCTION ON UP TO 3 MACHINES. ACCOUNTS ABUSING THAT LIMIT WILL BE DISCONTINUED.

FOR ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR MEMEBERSHIP PLEASE EMAIL [email protected]




Return to Homepage

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
1 month ago

Cool way to further preserve the land in that region and also repurpose the church without tearing it down. I call that a YUGE win.

Michael P Morgan-Dodson
Michael P Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago

Interesting acquisition as the City of Richmond actually owns title to the former Bloemendaal Estate that makes up the majority of the botanical garden. I wonder if the current board is laying the foundation to again try to wrestle title from the city as they attempted in the 1980s.

Lee Gaskins
Lee Gaskins
1 month ago

This is a win-win.