ARLINGTON — High Point Church in south Arlington, which bought the huge 107-acre former Johnson & Johnson Medical complex more than a decade ago and turned it into a campus for its church and schools, now may lose the property to its lender.Evangelical Christian Credit Union in Brea, Calif., which according to its website is a banking resource for growing ministries nationwide, has posted the property, at 2500 Arbrook Blvd., for the June 3 foreclosure auction on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse.The foreclosure posting says the church has defaulted on $31.5 million in loans. The posting offered no other details. The money was borrowed in 2008 and due in 2013, deed records show.Jac La Tour, a spokesman for the financial institution, declined to comment on the filing.High Point Pastor Gary Simons said in an email statement that the church was “shocked” about the foreclosure proceedings.“High Point Church is completely current on its mortgage payments through the end of the term of the notes and has attempted, in good faith, to meet every demand made upon it by ECCU,” he said. “Never in our discussions was there a mention of the possibility of ECCU not renewing the note and demanding the full payment at the end of the five years. A rollover loan was the stated and expected course of action.” Simons went on to say that a bank executive told church leaders that if the church sold its gas wells and royalty interest, and gave the revenue to the ECCU, the rollover loan would be approved. High Point sold three wells and future royalties in July 2013 for more than $500,000, Simons said. The church was also prepared to sell some its land, he said.“The sale of those assets provided revenue for payments and closing costs for the rollover, despite the fact that there were months of delays on the part of ECCU's attorneys,” Simons said.Simons said the church was told that the ECCU was having financial difficulties and that its revenues were down 50 percent. He said the church will continue looking for other financing.High Point, a nondenominational congregation on the northwest corner of Interstate 20 and Texas 360, bought the property in 2002, paying $9.6 million, according to deed records. The church borrowed the money for the sale from Evangelical Christian Credit Union but was released from that note in 2007 when it was paid, the records say.The church website says Simons and his wife, April, founded the church in their home 14 years ago with 16 people. It was holding Sunday services in nearby Workman Junior High School when it bought the Johnson & Johnson property.The church said its membership had grown to 3,200 when it acquired the facilities, but the current membership is not listed on its website. The church also operates the 200-student High Point Preparatory Academy, for kindergarten through 12th grade, and an Early Learning Center, for infants through pre-kindergarten, which has 62 children.The Johnson & Johnson complex was on the market for three years before the church bought it. It has 423,000 square feet of building space and acres of undeveloped land. The church said it renovated some warehouse space into a 5,000-seat auditorium. Johnson & Johnson employed more than 900 workers at the campus at its peak. The company vacated the complex in late 2000 after 20 years of operation. In the mid-’90s when its surgical glove manufacturing operations were moved to Malaysia, the plant’s employee number dropped to below 200. This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST