Greenville-based Grace Church wants to spend upward of $2 million to create a campus near Carolina Wren Park in downtown Anderson.

The church has reached an agreement to buy the Alverson Center Theatre, which would serve as a worship hall with 400 to 500 seats, according to its business manager, Jeff Randolph. But the plans to create a downtown campus may hinge on the church's efforts to acquire the city's now-vacant Grey Building, which would house offices, children's classes and a lobby.

The two buildings on East Whitner Street would become a permanent home for nearly 500 congregation members who are now meeting weekly at North Pointe Elementary School on S.C. 81 North.

Anderson City Council members who serve on the city's economic development committee met privately Monday to hear presentations from the church and Rogue Holdings LLC, which also is interested in the Grey Building.

"They are both great proposals," said Councilman Kyle Newton. "It is great to see that interest in the downtown."

John Wright Jr., who formed Rogue Holdings last month, declined to discuss details about his plans for the Grey Building. Wright is the board chairman for the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Anderson School District 5 Board of Trustees.

Grace Church officials have not said how much they are willing to pay for the Grey Building or the Alverson Center Theatre.

According to county property records, the Grey Building has a market value of $150,900.

The theater has a market value of $244,000, according to county property records. The 1910 building originally was a furniture store that was later known as the State Theatre for more than three decades before it was acquired by the Anderson Community Theatre in the early 1970's. The Anderson Community Theatre dissolved in 2000 and was reorganized by its executive artistic director Robb Alverson as the Alverson Center Theatre.

If the church buys the theater, Alverson said he would still be able to stage multiple productions there each year.

Alverson said he is excited about the prospect of the church renovating "that old movie palace into a state-of-the-art building."

Pastor says church would provide economic benefits

Pastor Matt Williams founded the non-denominational Grace Church in 1995 and seven people attended its first service in the living room of a home. A total of about 9,000 people attended Easter Sunday services last month at the church's eight Upstate campuses.

The church's attendance in Anderson has doubled since it began leasing space at North Pointe Elementary in August 2015.

Williams said the time has come for the church to establish "an anchor" in Anderson.

He said a campus near Carolina Wren Park would provide a boost to Anderson's downtown.

"We can bring more commerce to the area than a restaurant or condos can do," Williams said.

Randolph said the church would bring 1,800 people downtown each week once its campus is finished in a few years.

He said the church's campuses in Greer, Simpsonville and downtown Greenville have aided nearby businesses.

 

http://www.independentmail.com/story/news/local/2017/05/05/grace-church-make-2-million-investment-downtown-anderson/101260874/