Developer Proposes Apartment Buildings for Christ Church Property, Relocation of Historic Chapel to Centennial Park
Developer Adam Adache, managing partner of Cavache Properties, has plans to purchase the Christ Church campus in Old Pompano and construct a 10-story building and a 6-story building – containing approximately 319 rental apartments combined – on a portion of the 4.96-acre property.
The historic George Foster Chapel – located at 201 NE 2nd Street, just south of the main church – would be moved approximately 0.6 miles to Centennial Park, which is home to the Sample-McDougald House. The chapel, which is listed in the Local Register of Historic Places, would serve as a community and special event facility.
A site plan application for the two apartment buildings is currently going through the City’s review process. The developer is under contract to purchase the church campus from Christ Church United Methodist, Inc., and expects a closing date shortly after the site plan application is approved. Adache said he is not at liberty to discuss the purchase price until after the closing of the purchase contract.
The purchase would be made through OT Property Group LLC, an affiliate of Cavache Properties. As part of the purchase contract, Christ Church stipulated that the George Foster Chapel had to be relocated in order to preserve it.
According to a survey of historic sites in Pompano Beach, the chapel is “probably the oldest extant church building” in the city, and is considered architecturally significant as the city’s “only Gothic revival style building.”
The developer would pay for the relocation of the chapel to Centennial Park, and once it’s there, the City would maintain it.
The relocation of the chapel would not take place for at least another year, said Adache.
The City of Pompano Beach had plans to purchase the Christ Church campus in 2021 for use as the future Pompano Beach Municipal Charter School (grades K-8), which the City expected to open for the 2024-2025 school year. Christ Church was interested in selling the property because it was operating at a yearly deficit.
In June 2021, the City Commission approved a contract to purchase the church property for $7.6 million. The sale was never finalized because Christ Church could not meet the terms of the contract, which required delivery of the campus to the City free of tenants.
Harbour Church, which leases a building and other facilities on the campus, refused to vacate the premises. It filed a lawsuit against Christ Church and the City shortly before the September 29, 2021 deadline to close on the purchase contract. According to court documents, Harbour Church contends that actions to “oust” it from the campus were in violation of the terms of its lease agreement. The deadline to close on the purchase contract was extended for 90-days, but the issue was still not resolved and the City terminated the contract on December 29, 2021.
Harbour Church remains on the premises, and states in the court documents that its lease runs until July 2027. Its worship center is located at 217 NE 3rd Street, on a parcel just north of the proposed 10-story apartment building.
Other than the 10-story and 6-story apartment buildings, there are no definitive plans for any of the other parcels on the church property at this time, said Adache.
THE PROPOSED APARTMENT BUILDINGS
According to the submitted plans, the 10-story building proposed for the Christ Church property would occupy a 1.53-acre site where the main church and the George Foster Chapel are currently located. The site is bordered by NE 3rd Street to the north, NE 2nd Street to the south, NE 3rd Avenue to the east and NE 2nd Avenue to the west.
The 10-story building would consist of approximately 220 apartments and a five-level interior parking garage. The current plans show 3,600 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. A swimming pool, and other amenities such as a gym, would be located on the sixth floor above the parking garage. The number of parking spaces proposed for the garage is 426. There would also be 34 on-street parking spaces.
The 6-story building would be located on a 0.65-acre site directly south of the 10-story building, on the opposite side of NE 2nd Street. The 6-story building would consist of approximately 99 apartments. The building, which is horseshoe-shaped, would surround a ground-floor open green space. Residents would share the amenities of the 10-story building.
The plans include two pedestrian bridges over NE 2nd Street that would connect the parking garage and amenities in the 10-story building to the apartments in the 6-story building. The pedestrian bridges would be located one above of the other – one on the 3rd floor and one on 6th floor.
The residential units in both the 10-story building and the 6-story building would be one-, two- and three- bedroom apartments. The apartments would be rented at market rates.
Adache is currently building a 10-story mixed-use development, called Old Town Square, on a site just west of the church property. Old Town Square, which consists of 281 residential units and 5,529 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, is expected to be completed in late summer 2023. It is the first project of its type in the Old Town district of Pompano to offer market rate rental apartments.
Adache said he wants to buy the Christ Church property and develop more market rate rental apartments next to his Old Town Square project because “I’m a big believer in the area.”
He supports the long-term plan of the City of Pompano Beach and the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to create a new, more walkable downtown, which includes the redevelopment of the Old Town area as an arts and entertainment district.
“In order for any downtown to be successful, I think the components that are needed are the arts, the restaurants and the density – one feeds off the other,” said Adache. “I think the City and the CRA have done a great job to promote all of those components in the downtown.”
GEORGE FOSTER CHAPEL RELOCATION
The plan is to move the chapel to the western end of Centennial Park – a 5-acre public park located at 450 NE 10th Street, between NE 3rd Avenue and NE 5th Avenue.
The Sample-McDougald House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Local Register of Historic Places, is situated in the center of Centennial Park, and a newly constructed 4,900-square-foot open-air pavilion is at the eastern end, where native vegetation and a heritage garden are also featured.
In accordance with a Pompano Beach ordinance that provides for the protection of historic structures and sites listed on the Local Register of Historic Places, a “Major Certificate of Appropriateness” was required for the proposed relocation of the George Foster Chapel, and prior to the issuance of any building permits.
In December, the Pompano Beach Historical Preservation Committee unanimously approved an application submitted by the developer for a Major Certificate of Appropriateness. As part of the application, Anthony Abbate, professor of architecture and urban design at Florida Atlantic University, prepared an evaluation of the proposed relocation and its conformance with the review standards for the issuance of the certificate.
Jerry Bowman, chair of the Historical Preservation Committee, said it was the “most unique challenge” regarding a historic site that he’s experienced in his almost 20 years on the committee, and it was the first instance of a Major Certificate of Appropriateness.
“We’ve never had a historic site on the local register that was slated to be moved,” he said. “I’m just happy to save the chapel. That’s what our mission is – to preserve the history.”
The chapel, as listed in the Florida Master Site File – an official inventory of Florida’s historical cultural resources – is described as a 1930s church that “is relatively unaltered and retains its architectural integrity.”
The evaluation to relocate the chapel took into consideration the zoning of its current site and immediate surroundings, which is “Transit Oriented – Downtown Pompano Overlay District.” This zoning district allows new development to have building heights of up to 80 feet (approximately eight stories) with an additional 24 feet per bonus guidelines, and considerably higher densities. The proposed redevelopment of the area, as planned and projected, would dramatically alter the chapel’s original setting and context, said Abbate in his report.
Centennial Park offers a landscape and setting similar to the original location of the building, “preserving its historical value while providing improved access,” said Abbate.
Given the relatively short distance of the move, the recommended procedure, subject to professional evaluation, is to relocate the chapel completely intact, without partial or total disassembly.
The chapel’s noteworthy architectural features include an English Gothic style perpendicular stained glass window at the south façade; neo-Gothic style stained glass windows at the east and west façades; buttresses; a bell tower; exposed heavy timber scissor-type trussed rafters; and Dade County pine floor and roof framing. The stained glass windows were sponsored by pioneer families of Pompano. The Communion rail, constructed from Dade County pine, was carved by Reverend George Foster (the founding pastor who served at the chapel until 1942) and a member of the congregation who was a professional woodworker.
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