TAMPA — After years of financial troubles, Without Walls International Church is finally leaving its West Shore campus.
On Friday, the church finalized its sale for $14.3 million to the Richman Group, a real estate developer that plans to build multifamily apartment units on the W Columbus Drive property.
Without Walls, which opened in 1991, once boasted 22,000 members and was among the fastest growing churches in the United States. But when its senior pastor, Randy White, divorced his wife in 2007, half its members walked away, including White, who resigned two years later, citing health concerns. Today, it has a congregation of roughly 12,000 members.
Over the years, the church has taken out $29 million in loans from the California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union, using its Tampa campus and a Lakeland church as collateral. When church leaders stopped making payments, the credit union began foreclosure proceedings on both properties.
Last March, the church filed for bankruptcy. The credit union ultimately took over the Lakeland property after bidding on it at a bankruptcy auction. The 13-acre property includes a sanctuary, an administration building and the surrounding land.
Church officials told the Tampa Bay Times this month they plan to relocate. The church's Facebook page says that its new, temporary location is Blake High School. The last service in its current building is Sunday.