Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Does Ponce de Leon Mall sale to church portend a possible revival of our Corazon Movie Theater?


The six movie screens in six theaters are all in current use by the Anchor Faith Church, a great adaptive re-use.  

There may be a deed restriction prohibiting the use of the six screen theaters to show movies. 

Waiting on details. 

Query: could the Anchor Faith Church rent space elsewhere in the Ponce de Leon Mall to an independent movie house showing wholesome films, like the former Corazon movie theater?


Perhaps now that Anchor Faith church owns the entire building, the new buildout might enable the church to rent one or more of the six movie screens for adaptive reuse as a movie theater again! 

In 2014, Regal Theaters' closed its six screen theater at the Ponce de Leon Mall, just as Epic Theaters opened a sixteen-screen multiplex several miles away.  

The shopping center owner planned to demolish the six screen theater, saying that there would "never" be another movie theater built in St. Augustine.  

Demolition almost occurred, but the pastor of Anchor Faith Church appeared at the last minute to talk to the shopping center owner, and the demolition was cancelled.  

There may be some sort of deed restriction prohibiting use of the six screens for any other theater. 

I reported this potential criminal or civil antitrust violations to the Justice Department.  

Then the Anchor Faith Church pastor met with the shopping center owners' management and, mutatis mutandis, the shopping center owner decided not to destroy the six screen movie theater, renting it to the church.  

The building is now entirely owned by Anchor Faith Church.

In 2021, devious destructive Ponte Vedra developer JAY McGARVEY won unanimous City of St. Augustine approval for three bars restaurants after buying and closing our Corazon Theater in downtown St. Augustine. 

I filed an antitrust complaint with USDOJ and FTC on McGARVEY's closing of the three-screen Corazon Theater, which further reduced competition for movies in St. Augustine and St. Johns County,

McGARVEY's mouthpiece is a pompous, mendacious full-time federal government attorney somehow allowed to moonlight without any evidence of legal permission or authorization, J.A.G. Corps MAJOR GARY BRIAN DAVENPORT, top lawyer for the Florida Department of Military Affairs and Florida National Guard, who said his moonlighting is "none of my business," refusing to disclose any documents on any permission for his promiscuous representation of developers and other zoning applicants in addition to his full-time duties as a full-time federal employee. 

From St. Augustine Record:

Anchor Faith Church purchased the Ponce de Leon Mall on U.S. 1 in St. Augustine in December for $10.7 million with plans to expand its church and school in the building and open up the remaining space to retail stores again.

After sitting nearly vacant for almost a decade, the Ponce de Leon Mall has new owners.

Anchor Faith Church recently purchased the property for $10.7 million, according to records of the St. Johns County Appraiser's Office.

The church, which moved into the complex in 2009, has sought to buy the rest of the property for many years and finalized the transaction on Dec. 20, 2021.

The purchase makes the Christian church — using the name Kings Development Group, Inc., in the transaction — the sole owner of the entire 29-acre parcel on which the indoor mall and surrounding parking lot is sited. 

In 2009, Anchor Faith Church took over the space previously occupied by Regal Cinemas within the shopping center located at 2121 U.S. 1 in St. Augustine. In 2020, the faith organization expanded from its original 24,000 square feet into 33,000 square feet.

But for years, church leaders have made it clear to the mall's owners, the Hull Property Group, that Anchor Faith wanted to buy the property.

Currently, the mall is occupied only by Anchor Faith, Belk and Sears, and Belk and Sears are expected to stay on, according to Anchor Faith Church Pastor Earl Glisson.

Anchor Faith Church Pastor Earl Glisson stands in the Ponce de Leon Mall in St. Augustine on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The church purchased the mall on U.S. 1 in St. Augustine in December for $10.7 million with plans to expand its church and school in the building and open up the remaining space to retail stores again.

Calls to the Hull Property Group were not immediately returned. 

In an exclusive interview Friday with The Record, Glisson said, "This is a prime location, and we want to become a bigger part of the community."

The faith organization, which will give up its tax-free status as it converts to commercial use, will expand the capacity of its worship space — currently at just over 500 seats — to at least double.

The purpose is twofold: to expand the exposure of Anchor Faith and also to engage more with area residents.

As landlords, Glisson said several retail tenants have signed on so far, but he couldn't reveal any names at this point.

Anchor Faith Church purchased the Ponce de Leon Mall on U.S. 1 in St. Augustine last December for $10.7 million and plans to expand its church and school in the building and open up the remaining space to retail stores again.

If Glisson has his way, he envisions converting the defunct shopping plaza into a modern-day meeting space where local businesses — especially mom-and-pop shops — coexist with its church uses as well as "events to connect with the community," according to Glisson.

Over the last two decades, Anchor Faith has grown considerably, both in its worship congregants (about 600 on the books, Glisson said) as well the other services it provides, including a preschool and K-11 certified private school facility.

The school itself, Glisson said, continues to expand, with nearly 10 classrooms ready to accept students but has a waiting list of many others wanting to get in.

"I think it's the culture, that character development parents are seeking," Glisson said.

Delays in fundraising

In an October 2018 interview with The Record, Glisson said then he'd hoped to meet the $1.1 million down payment for the mall through fundraising and to reopen it by 2019, but it's taken longer than that to amass the capital for the down payment.

Glisson added that as a faith organization, the church was not looking to use the mall as a money-making venture but rather to use any proceeds from the rented spaces to offset the cost of its outreach programs and mission trips.

With indoor malls decidedly on the downturn in the commercial market, The Record asked Glisson why he seemed confident the project could be a success.

"I think if we bring the right mix of tenants that have their own market, that will draw people in," Glisson responded.

Anchor Faith has already done extensive work in the dusty interiors of the 1980s-era mall, cleaning and airing out its retail predecessors' space. 

Glisson said the church is in the process of drawing up plans for a major facelift for the mall, which would not raze the structure but just redesign it as well as its former name and signage. 

Glisson said it could potentially have a few retail spaces operating by this summer even if the mall as a whole was not finished.

And he said he believes it's possible.

"We want to see it come up to beyond where it was," said Glisson.

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