Sunday, October 27, 2013

While Mars Hill leaders set their sights on Bellevue, let's revisit the 50th street building

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006

page 176
Our current facility cannot accomodate much growth beyond our current four Sunday services. Additionally our kids' ministry is busting at the seams, our Capstone classes are in desperate need of space, and our cramped, windowless office space woudl perfect if we were a third-world sweatshop.

So the elders voted to purchase a 43,000 square-foot dumpy warehouse Jamie [Munson] found one block away from our current building. When the project is completed, we will have two buildings only a block apart, each hosting church services with 1,300 seats in one location and a projected 1,000 seats in the other. We will be able to grow to more than 10,000 people per Sunday through multiple services in multiple locations. Each service will have live worship teams, but I will only be live in some services and on video in others. [emphasis added] Some of our people are mildly unhappy about watching me preach on video instead of live because they feel it isn't very authentic. But in our current worship space, about half of the peope.l sit so far away from teh stage that they watch me on a video screen anyway.

What was that real estate, for the sake of review?

1401 NW 50th Street
Seattle, WA 98107

Go to that real estate now and will you find a second campus that seats 1,000 or 1,3000 people?  Are there services with live bands at 1411 NW 50th Street?  What happened to that grand vision of a future campus Mark Driscoll cast in Confessions of a Reformission Rev back in 2006?  It had a snag in the form of thee realities of licensing and zoning issues for land use for a piece of real estate in an industrial district, if memory serves. 

Sound Transit says it bought the property for $23 million. We don't know how much Mars Hill offered for it.

The Church had accused Sound Transit of taking the property by eminent domain, which Sound Transit denies. The Church has since backed down on that claim. Now the church leaders are questioning International Paper's acceptance of Sound Transit's offer. 

"We bid $250,000 over Sound Transit's bid," Dean said.
Let's keep in mind that in a recent profile on executive pastor Sutton Turner the Mars Hill budget was listed as $30 million.  Justin Dean is quoted as saying Mars Hill bid $250,000 over Sound Transit's bid, which The Stranger's reports was $23 million by Sound Transit's account.  $23,250,000. is slightly over 77% of the entirety of Mars Hill's current budget so ... where was Mars Hill going to find the money to outbid an already completed purchase by Sound Transit again?  After all, Mark Driscoll told Mars Hill "We're not a wealthy church".

But you see, dear reader, even if money were not an issue in outbidding an already completed transaction conducted by Sound Transit there's still the matter of Mars Hill's track record with their 2005 capital campaign.  Look how that grand vision turned out, or didn't turn out, and keep it in mind, Mars Hill members who might consider donating to any capital campaigns in the future.  Ask the leaders at your campus how the capital campaign of 2005 worked out and how closely the current 50th street corporate headquarters resembles what Mark Driscoll outlined in page 176 of Confessions of a Reformission Rev. You deserve to know, Mars Hill members.  ."

So with that in mind, let's get back to the Thomas Hurst statement about the apparently always in "core group phase" Mars Hill Bellevue.

After many months of searching and narrowing down our choices, only one building in Bellevue is available that meets the needs of the church that God is building on the Eastside. A few months ago we made an offer on a property in the Bel-Red corridor on 120th St. which was currently owned by the International Paper Company.

After renovations the property could feature:
  • - Seating for 3,000+ per service
  • - Local Bellevue Church office space
  • - Central Operations office space
  • - Media & Communications space
  • - Much larger Kids Ministry area
  • - Space for Mars Hill Students
  • - Training classrooms for a future Bible college
  • - Ample parking space on-site
  • - Large common areas

You might want to put emphasis on "could" in "could feature".  Full disclosure, Wenatchee The Hatchet refused to renew membership at Mars Hill after learning about the gap between the vision cast for the 50th street real estate in the 2005 capital campaign and in Mark Driscoll's book on the one hand, and what was actually reality about the real estate and zoning issues on the other.  It's worth noting that the legal president of Mars Hill back in that period was Mark Driscoll, just as he is now. Whatever grand vision is being cast for a piece of real estate that is already owned by Sound Transit go, Mars Hill members, to the 50th street corporate headquarters some time and read for yourself what Mark Driscoll cast as the vision for that real estate.  Then consider what Thomas Hurst says "could feature" in the real estate sold to Sound Transit if Mars Hill were able to own it even if Justin Dean's public statements about bids didn't involve a number that is slightly more than 77 percent of Mars Hill's current operating budget. 

Let's remember that according to their FY2012 annual report their total income for that fiscal year was about $24.6 million.  Don't want to believe Wenatchee The Hatchet?  Okay then, go see the numbers for yourself.

While we're at it, let's consider that while Mars Hill is looking for a Capital Development Manger Mark Driscoll mentioned in 2012:

Now, you look at this, you say, “Fourteen churches.” See, this is the myth at Mars Hill: “There’s a money fairy somewhere and the money fairy takes care of it.” Okay. You’re the money fairy. Okay.

Now let's suppose for sake of argument that the entirety of Mars Hill leadership may currently be completely convinced that that real estate currently owned by Sound Transit is "the only viable option" for what they want to do.  That's all the more reason to take a long look at the 2005 capital campaign and what Mark Driscoll said the vision was for the 50th street building that is current Mars Hill corporate headquarters, which was also where Future Hope Revocable Living Trust is/was based when Mark and Grace Driscoll bought a roughly one million dollar home just weeks before Driscoll would say "You're the money fairy" to Mars Hill.  [Wenatchee The Hatchet found the deed of trust which, while not a certified document in pdf format, establishes that Mark and Grace Driscoll bought the real estate in 2012 in May].  The history of 1401 NW 50th Street, Seattle, WA 98107 is something every contracted member of or prospective donor to Mars Hill Church should be informed about as Thomas Hurst's public statements about the vision for a building Mars Hill doesn't even own yet is sitting out there on the internet. 

Since Thomas Hurst is credited with the cover photo of Confessions of a Reformission Rev it's not like Hurst somehow can't know or remember how the 2005 capital campaign and the purchase played out. 


Robb said...

"$23,250,000. is slightly over 77% of the entirety of Mars Hill's current budget so ... where was Mars Hill going to find the money to outbid an already completed purchase by Sound Transit again?"

I know very little about the workings of companies and non-profit organizations, but it seems to me that very few bodies of Mars Hill's size and budget would pay cash for a building. Wouldn't they get a loan? It seems with $30 million in tithing income, getting a loan for about that much would not be impossible. (Again, I know next to nothing about business loans.)

Anonymous said...

Robb is right.
Lots of debt servicing going on over there.
The Driscoll organizations are truly 'slaves to the lenders.'

Hence the non-stop browbeating for money, "membership is discipleship" sloganeering, getting rid of the "honor" system of giving through collection baskets at the back of the room - to taking a collections three times, passing around KFC buckets, etc.

A large leveraged corporation appetite for debt, requires a corporate demand for constant and increased "giving" to make the nut each month, with no funds left for feeding the hungry or helping the poor. All funds are needed to feed the hungry machine.

Anonymous said...

Is it known for sure that the Edmonds house is Dricoll's? How likely is it that a family of 7 would live in a 3 bedroom (albeit luxurious and spacious) house?

Anonymous said...

"Is it known for sure that the Edmonds house is Dricoll's?"

1. The home is in Woodway, not Edmonds.
2. The question is best answered by taking the property parcel number and plugging it into the search window at the Snohomish County website under public documents search.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

The fundraising jargon for the ZIP Code would be to say it's a "prestige ZIP Code". For folks who don't care about status financial or social, it's just Edmonds. For folks who are determined to show they have arrived or were always in money, Woodway is probably the preferred nomenclature. A few years helping out major gift cultivation officers under your belt and you pick up a few bits of trivia.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

A comment made by some guy back on June 11, 2012 seems worth reproducing here:

The main campus in Ballard was purchased from the Fremont Dock Company in July of 2003 for $4.8 million. At the time of purchase the property was tax assessed for a little more than $3.1 million. Current tax assessed value is over 6.4 million. Remember the Earl St Building? That was basically given to MH in 1999 for $50,000. In June 2005 the building was sold to Westside Church of the Assemblies of God for $800,000.

Back to the 50th St Building, the tax assessed value is currently $3,663,900. At the time of purchase the tax assessed value was $3,129,000.

West Seattle was basically given to Mars Hill. The purchase price was $180,235 in June of 2006, current tax assessed value is $2,866,500.

Mars Hill also owns the little white house next to the West Seattle campus. It was also purchased in June of 2006 in a market sale for $293,500, current tax assessed value is $240,000.

The Downtown building was purchased in Oct of 2007 for 3.95 million from Rocket Enterprises, who purchased the property in March of 2007 for 3 million. Rocket made a cool million in just 7 months (wish I was Rocket). Tax assessed value of the property is 3,469,500.

The UW campus was purchased in July of 2010 for $2,499,000. It had been on the market for over a year. Current tax assessed value is $2,944,400.

How much does MH owe on all these properties? Based on the public record it appears that all of the properties owned by MH, except the UW campus are cross collateralized, meaning all of the properties are tied up under one huge mortgage with Bank of America. The public record shows a loan in October of 2007 for $17,160,000, total tax assessed value for those properties is $16,638,000.

For the UW campus, Mars Hill put down a good sized down payment and the seller (the Baptist Church) is carrying the financing. If I remember correctly the loan is for $2,000,000.

That is a combined total mortgage of $19,160,000 and a tax assessed value of $19,582,000. The amount of Mars Hill's collateralized debt is pretty much equal to what they owe. How big of a mortgage payment is that? Let's say MH is getting a really excellent commercial rate of 5.5%, the annual interest is $1,077,010. I am not sure what the terms of the loan are but a best case would be an interest only loan which would equal a monthly payment of $89,750. This is just to service the debt on the loan for 4 campuses and the 50th street bldg, this does not include rent on the other 10 campuses, utilities, insurance or maintenance. The monthly budget for the church as a whole has got to be staggering.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Robb, the big reposted comment was for you. Loans would be what they'd have to go for and it may be that since Bellevue officials reportedly don't want Sound Transit stuff to pile up MH may feel they've got a legitimate shot at making a public/publicity campaign to get the real estate.

Thing is, considering that the earlier Masters in Missional Leadership program got a multi-million bankroll and now looks to be dead in the water ... would bankrolling an even more expensive loan for MH to take a second or third shot at a Bible College be ideal? Wenatchee isn't in the least against a conservative evangelical Bible College or seminary, mind you, just no longer convinced Mars Hill is the church that is in a position to start one.

Anonymous said...

"For folks who don't care about status financial or social, it's just Edmonds."

The town of Woodway is a completely separate municipal entity from the city of Edmonds. Woodway has its own zoning, ordinances, and government. It is not part of Edmonds.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

ha, fair enough, Wenatchee stands corrected. :)

Anonymous said...

Such arrogance. Such danger.

Deut. 6:15 “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Anonymous said...

I recall that Steve Mulkey was concerned that the money being raised and saved in Olympia for a campus move from a Junior High School to the Minneart Center would be raided. He said he was concerned because the substantial amount of money raised at West Seattle for a HVAC renovation had been redirected to the general church budget and the West Seattle members were gonna have to raise that money all over again. No meoney raised at Olympia ever went to anything but media, sound boards, salaries, and moving upgrades. We had no benevolence, no community outreach, nothing. I wonder if that diversion of funds really happened and could be verified?

Anonymous said...

Dricoll often talks about how he makes no money off of his books, and that all of the proceeds "go right back into Mars Hill Church." Curious how that income doesn't seem to be reflected in the budget.