According to Denverite, In October of 2017, Presbytery of Denver, a group of Presbyterian congregations around Colorado, sold a church property on 1700 South Grant Street to Revesco Properties for $3.15 million.
In order to pursue their condo goals, Revesco Properties needed to rezone the building from single-family use to something more applicable to their vision. Rezoning land is no easy feat. It’s a complicated process, and it takes the approval of a plethora of community stakeholders.
We still don’t know the official plan for the building on Grant Street, but we do know the transaction was a part of a larger trend of Denver’s churches being sold.
The physical manifestation of this cultural shift is a significant decline in the need for church buildings. As Denver’s real estate market benefits from a population boom and sizable increases in urban density, churches find themselves faced with tough decisions about whether to maintain or sell their properties.
Many churches are opting for the latter — about 60 churches around Denver have recently been sold or listed for sale, according to LoopNet listings. While these potential transactions pose challenges for church congregations, legislators and neighborhood organizations also have to navigate the physical changes these churches’ absence will have on their neighborhoods’ landscape.
A neighborhood’s culture is in many ways dependent on its surroundings, and large increases of residents can fundamentally reshape a neighborhood’s character. Platt Park resident Dawn Dobson says her community has a “front porch culture,” and she worries that will be lost if the church turns to multi-family housing.
Dobson described her worries about these potential changes, saying: “This type of density is a threat to the vision of a multi-generational neighborhood, will put a strain on parking, increase traffic, and threaten the stability for families.”
She feels that the loss of churches will open an opportunity for more dense development — whether residents want it or not. “I’m sensing a trend with city council that they’re leaning more towards development and ignoring neighborhood associations,” she said. Transit and housing advocates, however, have argued that the city should encourage denser housing, especially near transit stops, as a response to the housing crisis.
What happens with all of these unused church buildings?
It’s difficult for churches to sell their properties at appropriate prices due to complicated zoning procedures, according to Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman.
Often, developers want to turn the large buildings that churches occupy into retail space or condos — but the zoning restrictions mean they can only be replaced with freestanding houses. Developers haven’t been the only ones interested in buying these properties but, as prices continue to escalate, many faith communities and smaller real estate companies have been priced out of the market.
In 2002, civic leaders anticipated the city’s growth and, with the Blueprint Denver plan, tried to preemptively address issues about land use. That plan led the city to zone many church properties for “single family” use.
When the plan was created, however, not enough attention was spent fine-tuning how churches fit into the zoning codes, according to council members Jolon Clark and Susman. As a result, developers face an uphill battle to redevelop church properties.
It's a complicated process, Susman said. Rezoning plans go from the planning office to a community planning board, then to a development and planning committee, and that's just the start before it even reaches the council meetings.
Sometimes, those churches are turned into amazing condos or single-family homes.
We went searching for some examples of churches that have been turned into residential properties, starting with Pinterest...and we were not disappointed!
Starting with this gorgeous old church in Melbourne that was turned into a sparkling and stunning modern house. With gorgeous use of glass in an extravagant fashion and preserving some of the original design aspects of the church, the architects delivered a residence that is truly exquisite. via Decoist
The El Jebel Shrine has stood tucked away on prime real estate for the better part of the last 80 years. Adjacent to the Willis Case Golf Course and boasting postcard-worthy mountain views, this grand dame has hosted countless weddings, proms, and of course, those Fez-topped Shriners themselves. But dwindling membership led to the charitable organization’s sale of the 65,000-square-foot building for $4.5 million in 2012.
Golden’s Confluence Companies is spending $12 million to convert the building into 24 condominiums. The renamed Mirador at Tennyson’s residential units (one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans are available) range from the high $300,000s to $1.2 million, and all feature oversize windows and 10-foot ceilings, so even the garden-level units feel light and open. Most units feature outdoor access (either patios or decks). And just a mile from the blossoming retail strip of Tennyson Street, the location affords a quick walk to shops and restaurants paired with easy I-70 access.