The members of Grace Church are looking for a new home after a deal to buy the SASCU Downtown Activity Centre from School District #83 died.
Jeff Tegart, finance chair and member of the church’s leadership team, says the bottom line is the church cannot afford to pay the asking price and remediation to address plumbing and asbestos problems.
With a weekly attendance of about 100 people, the church has been holding worship services at the DAC for four years. In December 2017, the leadership team was advised that the building was for sale.
Tegart says the original $1.5 million price tag was out of reach, but when it looked like no sale was forthcoming the church made an offer on the building, with plans to continue operating a community centre for other area groups.
“Our realtor suggested we low ball it for $250,000 and they accepted it providing the storefront school could continue to use the space for five years for $1 a year,” says Tegart. “We did our due diligence on the building and things were looking pretty good for a while, but then we found we could not get insurance because there’s galvanized piping.”
Tegart says the church could get partial insurance but not on flooding should the old pipes break and cause water damage.
“Also, there is asbestos in the building and it would be hard to fix that,” he says. “It would have opened a can of worms, but we didn’t have that kind of money to pay for it.”
The church submitted the much lower offer of $40,000 and had not planned to fix the plumbing initially.
“We could take on that risk, but we couldn’t pay the full amount and have no insurance (on the plumbing), nor could we pay the accepted offer and fix the problems,” he says. “The school board offered $225,000, we said no and the deal was dead basically.”
The Grace Church leadership team is now reluctantly looking for a new property for themselves.
“We like where we are; it would be nice if someone else who had the financing could take it on and keep it going,” Tegart says. “There are so many non-profits and Salmon Arm is in short supply for places to rent being we’re growing so quickly as a town.”
Tegart is hoping that knowing the building is available for much less than the original asking price might spur interest in other possible buyers.
“Maybe knowing what people could get the building for less might open the door for someone else and we could lease it back,” he says. “Most people I’ve talked to that are business savvy think it should be knocked down.”
School district #83 Official Trustee Mike McKay acknowledges he has received the information that the offer from the church has been withdrawn and is looking ahead.
“We are working with realtors regarding potential next steps and hope to solicit new interest soon.”