Having a church for a landlord is certainly different but then again Heartland Community Church has always been known for doing things differently. They’ll soon take over as owners of Colonial Village Mall. It's not everyday you hear of a church buying a mall but Heartland's directional leader says it makes the most sense.
“As we looked at the comparison between this the investment in this versus the investment in a brand new building it was real easy to say it's never been about a building." says Mark Bankord
The new church will be located inside the old JC Pennys and will allow the church to continue its rapid growth. As owners of the mall they'll also be in charge of all the existing businesses. But current store owners say they haven't heard from their new landlord.
“Part of our responsibility is to honor the contract with the owner and part of that of it is they still own it so they'll be talking to them. So we're not talking to any of the tenants.” said Bankord.
Bankord hopes to talk to tenants in the fall once Heartland’s taken over ownership. They will then decide what to do with the existing businesses that include a restaurant/bar.
Bankord says, “We've said from the beginning we're going to honor all the leases that are currently in existence."
While some businesses say they're unsure of what will happen when Heartland becomes owner....
“Who knows the future? Very hard I don't know but I hope they'll keep us.” says PD Jeweler owner Phuong Nguyen
Most business owners are remaining optimistic...
“In a whole I think it's going to be very advantageous to have Heartland come in here.” Says Carlson Wagonlit Travel Consultant Katie Adami.
“Bring more business to all stores here. I think they have 3,000 in their congregation." added Gloria Vickson of Karnes Music.
And it seems the businesses don't mind having a church collecting the rent Heartland has already heard from several businesses looking to move into Colonial Village Mall.