GRAND FORKS, ND (March 5, 2015) — Hope Evangelical Covenant Church has agreed to purchase Grand Cities Mall, where it has met for nearly 20 years. The church expects to complete the deal by the end of the month.
The church had been negotiating to purchase extra space when current owners J. Herzog and Sons Inc. offered to let them buy the entire mall facility.
Hope launched in 1979 and moved to the mall in 1996. It purchased the space it currently occupies in 1998.
The church of about 1,000 people had explored the possibility of moving to another existing facility or constructing a new building but decided that purchasing the mall was the most economical alternative.
Kmart and Ace Hardware anchor the mall, but the indoor mall also includes a number of specialty shops and two other churches. The church will expand into spaces that currently are not occupied.
“In the fall we will open up a long dreamed of child-care center and preschool,” Knight said. “This is in direct response to a significant need in our community. Our church staff has been without ‘official’ offices for about five years, and our adult education and equipping ministries have been out of space for quite some time as well.”
Knight said the church has long-range dreams for the property. “Someday, we hope to create this mall property—27 acres—into a space that draws the community. We are imagining things like park space, walk ways, senior adult housing, new retail spaces, a larger worship center, a spiritual life and leadership training center. Many of these dreams will be shaped in the future but what we do know is that God has opened a door for us to pursue our vision of ‘touching with the hope and love of Jesus Christ at least 10 percent of the unchurched people in the Greater Grand Forks area.’ ”
There are no plans in the near future to take over any of the occupied space. Knight told the Grand Folks Herald that separate limited liability company has been formed to oversee the mall, so the part of the building that is not a church will not be tax-exempt, and current mall management will stay in place for now.
“The goal really isn’t to be mall managers, the goal is to be a church,” Knight said.
Discussions had been ongoing for a long time. “I was at Midwinter in 2014 during the message by Wilfredo De Jesus that I went forward at the altar call and committed to keep walking the path toward purchasing the mall for as long as the door was kept open,” Knight said. “Just over a year later we have congregational agreement to purchase the property.”
National Covenant Properties financed the deal. “National Covenant Properties has been amazing in the way they have guided us, supported us and facilitated throughout this process,” Knight said. “There were many days that we thought that this was not going to come together, and God has clearly positioned the right people at the right time to keep us on the path.”