Downtown First Baptist property under contract


When the First Baptist Church of Columbus broke ground on their new campus on Bluecutt Road in 2009, one of the biggest challenges was selling their downtown property, land that covers two-thirds of a city block that the church owns has been taking for nearly two centuries.

The property was finally signed on Monday.

Brokers who negotiated the sale – Royce Hudspeth of Rhett Real Estate representing the Church and Joshua Holder of Legacy Real Estate representing the buyer – did not want to reveal the name of the buyer or the sale price on Monday as the deal was not yet officially closed became.

The most recent listing set the price at $ 450,000 and noted that lower offers would be considered. The church complex has four main buildings covering an area of ​​81,000 square feet and was originally listed at $ 4.9 million. Five years ago it was quoted at $ 1.5 million.

Although the Church had intended to sell the downtown property since purchasing the Bluecutt Road property in 2005, efforts to find a buyer intensified with the arrival of pastor Kevin Cuthbertson in February.

Royce Hudspeth

“He called me and asked me to take the list and get things moving,” said Hudspeth, a First Baptist member. “We spoke to several groups who were interested in the property. One of the things that appealed to us about this group was that they wanted to preserve the historical appearance of the church. That was important to many of our members. “

Members voted to approve the sale during the Sunday morning service.

Holder said the buyer, while non-local, is a Mississippi that is focused on development projects in northern Mississippi.

The church at Seventh St. N. 202, begun in 1832, is one of the oldest in the city. The current sanctuary was built in 1908, with the other buildings added in the decades that followed. Although part of the city’s historic district, it has no state or national historical designations that give the new owner leeway to convert the church into a mixed-use facility.

“It wasn’t signed until today, so we’re still getting all of our ducks in a row,” said Holder on Monday. “A multifunctional property with single-family houses, office and commercial space is planned. We are allowed to keep the day care center open and use the sanctuary as a wedding venue. But at this point we are not going too far into the details. It’s such a big property. We will speak to local contractors to come up with ideas on how we can best use the property. “

Holder said the project will definitely include high-end homes, but hesitated to speculate on how many homes would be built.

“We want to be careful that the market does not become oversaturated,” he said. “But apartments are definitely on schedule and we could have them ready in eight months.”

The property is currently classified as C-1 (light commercial space). Holder said the new owner will request a zoning change to allow mixed-use living.

“We will focus on our due diligence as we near completion,” said Holder.

The new owner prefers to remain anonymous until the deal closes in early January, which allows them to defer paying property taxes on the site until 2023.

Lowndes County’s tax advisor Greg Andrews said he was asked to provide two real estate tax estimates based on estimates of $ 700,000 and $ 800,000.

“It’s $ 16,204 annually at $ 700,000 and $ 18,519 at $ 800,000,” said Andrews.

As a church, First Baptist was not required to pay taxes on the property.

Hudspeth said the purchase agreement included a provision that would allow First Baptist to lease the sanctuary for 12 to 18 months.

“That gives the Church some flexibility in moving to the new facilities on Bluecutt,” said Hudspeth. “We know it will be sad for some of our members to make the move, but everyone understands that it is for the best.”

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]

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