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Greenwich, Conn. (March 14, 2023) – Although many real estate transactions are thought to be fairly cut-and-dry, when the real estate involved has been used for religious purposes, the process is often far from simple.
Located just two miles apart, First Lutheran Church and Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Greenwich, Conn. had been sharing a pastor for over two years when the congregations agreed it was time to merge and sell one of their existing properties. In doing so, the combined entity – now named Saint Paul Lutheran Church – has thoughtfully set itself up financially to grow its ministries in ways that will continue to serve congregants and the community well into the future.
“There’s a tenderness in transacting on church real estate. There are often generations of personal experiences and stories of that live within these meaningful spaces, and it can be hard for some to feel ready to move into their church’s next phase of life,” said Carlin Beekman, Brokerage Associate with Foundry Commercial, a commercial real estate firm that has specialized in partnering with organizations in the religious, non-profit, and education industries to provide real estate services for over 50 years.
Toward the end of 2021, leaders from both churches recognized the opportunity to come together and sell one of their properties to provide more resources for expanding God’s Kingdom. A committee comprised of leaders and congregants from each church was established to take the churches through a full discernment process. Having worked on a number of projects with LCMS previously, Foundry Commercial was recommended to the churches as the commercial real estate consultant of choice that could expertly work alongside pastors and denominations to align their church properties with their ministries. In addition to helping assess the value of the two church properties in order to make a recommendation on which one to sell, Foundry Commercial provided the resources and accompanying materials needed to educate both congregations about the merger.
“We combine the church’s vision with our ability to assess market conditions and property values, to help guide denominations toward real estate decisions that can ultimately make a huge impact in their abilities to operate and grow,” said Matt Messier, SIOR, CCIM, who leads Foundry’s Religious, Education, and Non-Profit Group. “To us, it is more than a transaction; it’s about helping ministry flourish.”
Both representing districts of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), First Lutheran Church is in the New England District, while Saint Paul’s represented the Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church. Now merged, the two are located together at 286 Delavan Avenue in Greenwich and are ordained as part of the New England District.
In February 2023, the church property at 38 Field Point Road, which had previously housed the First Lutheran Church, was sold for $10.7 million. Located in the heart of the exclusive Fairfield County, just several blocks from high-end retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, lululemon, Hermès, and Tory Burch, the 9,800+ square-foot church sat on nearly an acre of land at the intersection of Field Point Road and Elm Street.
Modifications are already underway at the property, and Chabad of Greenwich is expected to open its doors on Field Point Road shortly. Foundry Commercial, which is headquartered in Orlando, Fla., was aided by local broker Mike Tedesco, Principal of Tedesco Realty, as the seller’s representative in the transaction.
“Our congregations are so grateful for the professional and thorough job done that was done by Foundry and Tedesco in marketing and selling our property. The time and effort put in resulted in the best outcome and benefit for all of us. The collective expertise and personal touch made us feel less like a client and more like a partner in this challenge,” said Tony Dorazio, a board member who chaired the church merger committee. “Now that this phase is over, we can look forward to utilizing the proceeds to proclaim and expand the Good News into the ears of those in need. A joyful thank you to Foundry and Tedesco for managing and guiding us through a very difficult event.”
Foundry Commercial’s Religious, Education, and Non-Profit Group has long-been recognized as the national leader for commercial real estate transactions involving such properties. As a full-service commercial real estate services and investment company, the depth of Foundry’s platform often results in the unique cross-collaboration of brokerage teams. Just this month, the Religious, Education, and Non-Profit Group partnered with the company’s Investment Advisory Group to represent the buyer of a nursing school in Irvine, Calif. that had outgrown its existing footprint.
For more information about Foundry’s Religious, Education, and Non-Profit Group, visit foundrycommercial.com. To learn more about the Greenwich transaction, contact Carlin Beekman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-540-7789.