Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Without walls to sell Lakeland campus

TAMPA — Without Walls International Church is close to selling its huge Without Walls Central church in Lakeland and settling into its existing Tampa location debt-free, pastor Randy White said Thursday.

Without Walls could solve its crowding problems in Tampa by building a parking garage, he said.

As for the congregation in Lakeland, White said, "They'll be very excited."

White said Without Walls has been planning for a year to put both locations on the market, where they are listed for $30-million each. He said the Tampa property has been appraised at almost $30-million and the Lakeland site at $27-million. Without Walls bought the Lakeland church in 2005 for $15-million.

"Both of the properties are located in a location where there's just tremendous growth," he said.

With about 20,000 members, Without Walls is the Tampa Bay area's largest church. But it encountered a rocky period last year after White and his wife, Paula, divorced and a U.S. Senate committee asked for detailed reports on the church's finances. Without Walls hasn't complied.

Randy White said plans to market the church properties predate those events. He said the plans were inspired by the opportunity to transform real estate appreciation into stepped-up charity.

"We want to get to a place where we're focusing on the indigent with more of our resources," White said.

But there are practical considerations, too. Major developments are in the works to the east and west of Without Walls' Tampa property, at 2511 N Grady Ave., between Raymond James Stadium and the International Plaza mall.

White said Without Walls has several scenarios stemming from different outcomes of property sales, but was leaning "90 percent" toward one that involved keeping the Tampa site and selling the Lakeland one.

"The buyer is very close to purchasing that now," White said.

He said that change would not evict the 1,500-member Lakeland congregation. He declined to elaborate, saying "there are other congregations involved" and they should hear the news from their leaders.

Without Walls properties are being marketed by Matt Messier, an Orlando agent for CNL Real Estate Services. Messier said he sells church properties only, and has handled 1,500 sales.

Messier said both Without Walls campuses are in a common situation that triggers church sales: Property values have boomed as growth has converged around the churches, creating opportunities for them to relocate while obtaining new cash for expanded ministries.

"If the properties sell, they'll take the proceeds and hopefully build a more focused and functional church," Messier said.

White said both sites had generated offers, including a $26-million bid for the Tampa church.

"We've had no less than six contracts offered on the Tampa property, and we've had no less than three contracts offered on the Lakeland property in the last six weeks," he said.

White sought to dispel any notions that the dual sale offers signaled that he was leaving Tampa after a tumultuous year.

"I'm not running," he said. "I'm not leaving. I'm not forsaking our people."

White estimated that attendance at his Tampa services has dropped 20 percent in the last year. He said church offerings also are down, but by less than 20 percent, which he attributes to a slowing economy. Membership has held steady.

White would like to retire the property's $12-million mortgage, which comes due in January. But he said Without Walls could extend it for five years.

"We have a lot of money in the bank," White said.

If Without Walls were to build a church in Tampa, it would seat 5,000 to 7,000 worshipers in a single Sunday service, he said.

Given the economic downturn, Without Walls is planning a major aid program for Tampa's needy, partnering with "a very, very large food distributor."

"It will really impact this community with furniture, food, clothing and any of a number of nonperishible items," White said.

Bill Coats can be reached at coats@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5309.

Without Walls campuses

TampaLakeland
Size4,500 seats; 13 acres11,000 seats; 74 acres
BoughtIn 1998 for $12-millionIn 2005 for $15-million
Mortgage$12-million$10-million
Property

appraiser's value
$14.2-million

$14.1-million
Without Walls' appraisalNearly $30-million$27-million

Sources: Public records, pastor Randy White

Without walls to sell Lakeland campus 03/06/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2008 12:34am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB

    Bucs

    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]

  2. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  3. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young

    Environment

    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  5. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on

    Tourism

    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times