Congregation balks at offer for old downtown church site

Church property and entire city block on Grand Avenue is for sale.



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Purchase reprints

Church property and entire city block on Grand Avenue is for sale.

According to Harry Weiss, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, the city block owned by the former First Assembly of God Church (seen from the back above) has lots of potential with a great location that would fit with the authority’s mission to attract private investment.



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According to Harry Weiss, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, the city block owned by the former First Assembly of God Church (seen from the back above) has lots of potential with a great location that would fit with the authority’s mission to attract private investment.

The Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority’s hopes to turn the block next to the Mesa County Public Library District’s central library into taxable property stalled recently when Victory Life Church rejected its purchase offer.

The congregation decided the $1 million offer on the city block between Fourth and Fifth streets and Grand and Ouray avenues, which included additional revenue components, didn’t meet the value of the roughly 2.6-acre property at 402 Grand Ave., officials said.

“There was a tremendous amount of emotion involved in it,” said Broker Ben Hill of Hill and Homes Real Estate, describing the meeting where a deal that had been approved by the board was presented to the congregation. Many members have sentimental ties to the church that was formerly their spirit- ual home, he said.

The property formerly occupied by Victory Life Church, which was formerly known as the First Assembly of God, has been for sale since 2005.

Victory Life opened in a new location at 2066 U.S. Highway 6&50 in 2010.

Connection Church is now renting the Grand Avenue location for $5,000 a month.

The sale price advertised on Showcase.com is $3 million.

“I think the economy has to vastly improve if someone is going to meet the requirements,” Hill said about the property.

Its appraised value has dropped by about $1 million in recent years from its start of $3.3 million.

The idea to negotiate with the Downtown Development Authority surfaced because of a previous conceptual plan that included the area. Both Hill and DDA Executive Director Harry Weiss said the property has lots of potential with a great downtown location that would fit with the authority’s mission to attract private investment.

“Where there is opportunity to take previously tax-exempt property, like a church, and turn it into something taxable, that helps the entire community,” Weiss said.

Given the nature of the economy, mixed-use retail and housing may be five to 10 years away, but the authority has the ability to do site control until a private investor becomes interested, he said.

There was no specific plan for the property, but what’s known as the Catalyst Project could be a guide or used for ideas, he said.

That ambitious and complex conceptual project was designed about three years ago and would have teamed local government entities with private developers to revamp several blocks centered in the 500 block of Grand Avenue.

For the future of the property, the seller welcomes a better offer from the authority or another entity, Hill said.

“We will always leave the door open,” Weiss said. “It’s still a good development site. … The issue is when is the market going to emerge from a development standpoint.”



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