Friends, I apologize if it seems that all I talk about is our meeting space, but I want you to know the latest:
Since we started Echo six years ago, we've rented from the Walnut Hills Christian Church. They told us they were closing their doors and are trying to get rid of their building. Things are slightly complicated, however, as the church's pastor is trying to plant a new church out of this congregation and they desire to use the funds from the building sale to go towards the new church, so they will not gift us the building.
Last month we put in an offer. As the facility is in need of substantial repairs, our offer factored in these costs (this offer, by the way, permitted us to obtain the building without using bank financing). While our leadership firmly believes that our offer was fair, the Walnut Hills Christian Church feels that their property is much more valuable than we do. In a meeting yesterday, we were informed that they've decided to list the building with a realtor at a price $300,000 more than our offer. They plan to keep their church open for some extended amount of time (because the building is an existing liability that would need to be moved before closure) and suggested that they would keep it listed for at least six months.
We believe that market realities will make it very difficult for them to get anywhere near their asking price. There are multiple church buildings in our community which sit vacant not only because of the cost of renovation/maintenance but also because of the limited options surrounding them (zoning issues and peculiar layouts are a headache for transitioning use). And since the housing market has dried up, residential development on the plot isn't likely, so there is really no other use for this structures except for a church. And it's extremely tough to find a buyer because it's nearly impossible for churches our size to get financing.
Our leadership is more concerned with Echo's viability than with owning a building so we will not submit another offer. Our current offer will remain on the table so that, if nothing else materializes, we could still end up with the building. And we will be able to continue to meet there until it's sold so we probably wouldn't have to move anytime in the next couple of months. So, for now, it's business as usual.
We will continue to examine other meeting options in the neighborhood (something we've done throughout the past couple of years) to ensure that our congregation will have some place to gather.
So we're still in a holding pattern. We will keep you posted with any further developments. Thanks for your patience and your prayers. Again, Echo is and will be much more than a building. We'll keep ministering in the city regardless of where we meet.