UCC sells downtown Cleveland office building
The United Church of Christ has a contract to sell the Cleveland building that has been home to its national ministry offices since 1990.
The buyer of the nine-story building at 700 Prospect Ave. is K&D Properties of Willoughby, Ohio. The sale is expected to close on May 31, 2022. A purchase price cannot be disclosed until the deal is final.
“As we look to position our organization for future success, we seek to invest more resources in mission and personnel and fewer resources in property,” said UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer. “700 Prospect has been a very good asset for us for over 30 years, but new technologies allow us to work differently in less space – lowering both our expenses and our carbon footprint. This has been a long journey, and we are anxious to move into a new space that will better equip us for 21st century success.”
He said proceeds from the sale will be added to the national setting’s unrestricted endowment funds to help fund the mission of the United Church of Christ.
UCC-owned since 1989
The church said a formal goodbye to the building – and its Amistad Chapel – in a special live webcast from there on March 13. The UCC purchased the building from the Ohio Bell Telephone company in 1989 for $5.2 million.
The chapel, an architectural gem completed in 2000, was the capstone of “Church House” complex the church developed on the property, starting in the late 1990s. That included an eight-story hotel facing Huron Road, a creative “Meeting House” room and a courtyard between the two buildings. The church sold those in 2019 for $7.5 million.
The church had listed the 700 Prospect Avenue building for sale in August 2020 for an asking price of $7 million.
K&D is expected to build residential apartments in the 700 Prospect Avenue building. The local developer has previously turned other downtown Cleveland commercial spaces into residential and mixed-use facilities. The company created housing in other historic and newer buildings such as the Terminal Tower, the Halle Building, the Leader Building, the East Ohio Gas Building, the Hanna Annex, Reserve Square, and the former William Taylor & Son Department Store building.
Move ‘serving the mission’
The church signed a 15-year lease in September 2021 to move its offices to the former AECOM building at 1300 E. 9th Street, also in downtown Cleveland. A build-out is underway on the 11th floor there. Church officers currently estimate a June move-in date for staff. Some church-related ministries will also occupy space on a lower level and the 16th floor of that building.
As Dorhauer noted in a fall webinar discussing the move, the decision was made with good stewardship of mission dollars in mind.
The church’s national staff and governance structure have both “grown considerably smaller through the years,” he noted. The building has been largely vacant – save for a minimal crew – since March 2020, when the church closed it due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. Now many staff will continue to work entirely remotely, or in a “hybrid” pattern: partly from the office, partly from home. All of this has contributed to a reduced need for office space, Dorhauer said.
“The real message here is focus on your mission, and make sure, as good stewards, that every resource you have is currently serving the mission,” he said in the September “Ministry on the Move” webinar. “And if it’s not, find a way to repurpose it for the sake of the mission. That’s what this has been about.”
UCC News Director Connie Larkman contributed to this article.
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