July 1, 2014

Credit union forecloses on High Point Church property in Arlington

The Evangelical Christian Credit Union followed through with a foreclosure even after the church, which defaulted on its $31.5 million mortgage, offered to hand over the deed.

The 107-acre High Point Church campus in Arlington was sold to the lender in a foreclosure auction Tuesday morning.

The Evangelical Christian Credit Union in Brea, Calif., was the only bidder in a quick sale on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse, offering $18.2 million.

The trustee, Sharon Sjostrom, a lawyer with Blalock & Williams in Dallas, said she did not know whether the bid equaled the amount the church owed on its notes.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the church said it borrowed $31.5 million from the ECCU to pay off bonds issued to buy the property and renovate the facility. The church said it was current on payments and was working with the lender to extend the terms when it called in the notes.

“The notes owned by ECCU were a refinance of the original money borrowed and a renovation transforming a manufacturing facility and warehouse into a church facility,” Donnie Ives, an associate pastor and church spokesman, said in the statement. The church initially borrowed $9.6 million to buy the property in 2002. That note was rolled into two later notes totaling $31.5 million, he said.

The property, a former Johnson & Johnson campus at the northwest corner of Interstate 20 and Texas 360 with about 423,000 square feet of building space, was first scheduled to be sold at auction in June. The credit union posted the property for foreclosure in May.

The church held its last service there June 8 and walked away from the property. It also closed a day-care center.

Church leaders said they tried to give the credit union the property by deed in lieu of foreclosure, as well as all the church’s business personal property, including furniture, fixtures, equipment and vehicles, and the revenue left in its bank accounts to avoid expensive legal proceedings.

The ECCU declined to accept the deed, opting for the more formal foreclosure process to obtain clear title to the property.

“High Point Church was not aware of any issues with the title,” Ives said in the statement. “The church made this offer on several occasions, including a hand delivery of the deed by the church’s attorney, which was declined.”

In a recent letter to the church, the ECCU said it did not want the equipment or vehicles, and it referred High Point to another church interested in buying some of its sound equipment and other possessions, Ives said in the statement.

Ives said the church plans to sell off its possessions and use the proceeds on its outreach and mission work in the Metroplex and worldwide.

Ives said the former High Point Preparatory Academy, a private Christian school operated by the church, will continue as a stand-alone entity at a new location, with new leadership and a new name. The school, which has about 200 students, will not be affiliated with High Point Church, he said.

Ben Appleby, a partner in the brokerage firm Paladin Partners in Dallas, attended the auction to make sure the credit union bought the property. He said he represents “a couple of groups” that may be interested in buying the property for development and will now approach the financial institution.

“I envision it as an investment site,” Appleby said.

High Point, a nondenominational congregation, was founded in 2000. The church had about 3,200 members when it acquired the property but now has about 2,500.

“The Church is a spiritual creation of God consisting of believing people,” Ives said in the statement. “A building can be shut or a corporation discontinued, but the Church and God’s work will go on.”

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