A church that’s been operating for six years on a $10-a-year lease soon might be out of its building.
In March 2007, the city’s community redevelopment agency spent $300,000 to buy the lot at 1000 N. Seacrest Blvd. — at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive — from Jesus House of Worship.
In the deal, the CRA agreed to let the church stay as a tenant, with one-year leases renewed every year at the option of the CRA board. The most recent lease ended March 31.
“The activity was thought to be beneficial as ‘eyes and ears’ in this transitional area,” development director Michael Simon wrote in a memo for Tuesday’s CRA board meeting.
But now, he said the agency has had “unsolicited” developer interest.
On top of that, he said, the CRA owns a lot right next to it; combined, the agency has a highly marketable tract at the corner of a neighborhood on the rebound.
Simon asked the board to give the church six months’ notice.
On Thursday afternoon, the building was deserted and padlocked and had a banner identifying it as “House of Faith Ministries; Emilienne D. Jeune, Pastor.”
Pastor Eddie Evans said Friday by phone that he bought a property at 414 S.W. 10th Ave. about five years ago and operates Jesus House of Worship there. He said he loans out the building rent-free to House of Faith, which has dozens of congregants.
Whatever the building is being used for isn’t the point, Simon said at Tuesday’s meeting. He said the CRA is exercising its rights. He also said the agency would try to find another site for the church group.
Board member and Vice Mayor Woodrow Hay offered to meet with the church leaders — he and Simon will do so on Tuesday — and asked if the board couldn’t give the whole thing another month.
But, board chairman and Mayor Jerry Taylor said: “We’ve had them sit there for five years. It is important to get it up and moving.”
Hay: “One month.” Taylor: “I can’t envision anything he will tell you that will change my mind.”
Board member James “Buck” Buchanan suggested waiting a month but then giving the church just five months to vacate. That passed 6-1. New Commissioner David Merker was opposed; he wanted to act now.