One of the biggest churches in Raleigh can finally move ahead with plans to rebuild its Glenwood Avenue campus.
Providence Baptist Church has been trying for years to revamp its 11-acre campus, where thousands of worshipers pray inside a former hotel building outside of I-440. But a rare legal situation and a landowner’s hesitant sister had swamped the deal.
The church has bought five acres of nearby property in the last several years. The sizable congregation plans to build a new sanctuary, better parking and new traffic lanes, Mann said.
“The church is in the process of wanting to redevelop their whole church campus,” attorney Barry Mann told Raleigh’s Law and Public Safety Committee earlier this year.
But then there was the snag. Providence needs to buy another piece of property, just west of its site, to make its development plans work, according to its attorney. The land in question would connect the church’s lots, resolving some city requirements for development.
The owners of this neighboring land – James Dunn and Bobby Dunn – say they’re perfectly willing to sell 1.5 acres from the back of their commercial property. But, until this week, they weren’t allowed to.
It seems the Dunn family used to have its homestead along present-day Glenwood Avenue, and it used to own the site of the church, too, according to Bobby Dunn. And somewhere in the process of dividing and developing the family land, something went wrong.
To make a long story short, a Sherwin Williams store ended up straddling the line between two properties owned by various members of the Dunn family. That’s a no-no under city rules – and it held up the church’s purchase of the other part of the property for years.
“You’re not supposed to do a recombination where it would leave either lot in violation of city rules and policies,” city attorney Tom McCormick said.
The Dunns could have sold the land by fixing the property line, but James Dunn’s sister reportedly wouldn’t agree to do so. She was afraid of tax consequences, according to Bobby Dunn, her cousin. She could not be reached for comment.
McCormick said that the redrawing of a lot line wouldn’t require the exchange of money, and so shouldn’t have a tax impact. He has offered to talk with both sides, to no avail.
So the city’s law and public safety committee came up with a simpler solution. The council members on the committee voted unanimously to allow the lot to be divided up and the property sold to the church, even if the problem on the other side of the Dunn property isn’t fixed.
Last Tuesday, the full Raleigh City Council gave its unanimous approval for the parties to divide up the lot and proceed with the deal, even though the lot line won’t be fixed.
And now, finally, the church can finally buy the land and figure out what’s next.
“A plan is still being developed and has not been officially approved by the congregation,” executive pastor John Erwin wrote in an email, declining to offer further details.