The sprawling Lakewood Christian Church complex at 6509 Bosque Blvd. has hit the market priced at $2.49 million, and the 61-year-old congregation is seeking a new site in the growth corridor on the west side of Waco, according to a local real estate agent listing the property.
“It has been listed about a month, and I’ve had more interest the last week than I expected,” said Brad Harrell, with KW Commercial: Harrell & Associates, who is marketing the 33,410-square-foot church and child development facility on 6.3 acres with frontage on Bosque Boulevard, Cobbs Drive and Fish Pond Road.
The church was built in 1958 and renovated at times between 1964 and 1998, according to Harrell’s website and archived newsletters on the Lakewood Christian Church website. The church perhaps is best known for hosting a live nativity scene and drive-thru during the Christmas holidays.
The church has identified three sites it is considering in West Waco, Harrell said. Harrell, 54, said he attended kindergarten at Lakewood, and his father remains a member.
Several large housing subdivisions have been announced or continue to take shape in the U.S. Highway 84 corridor. D.R. Horton and Stylecraft, both Texas-based national builders, envision 1,500 homes in their Park Meadows subdivision on the western outskirts of Waco, and the city issues permits for new homes there weekly.
Veteran builders Fred Dewald and Richard Clark have announced plans for 750 homes in Creekside, a new subdivision near Warren Road and Ritchie Road in the Midway Independent School District.
And Loera Home Builders’ Jose Loera Jr. announced plans in August last year to build 260 homes on half-acre lots the city of Lorena has pledged to annex.
“The church has had a good run here, and feels it can make a difference out west,” Harrell said. “As for the Lakewood site, it will be repurposed. God will repurpose it. All the inquiries I’ve received are from churches. I’ve had three site visits from representatives who are seriously looking. They need space, and places like this don’t come on the market very often.”
Harrell said he remains in regular contact with the Lakewood board, which has given him authority to discuss issues relating to the sale. Interim pastor Richard Roland said he would rather not comment at this time.
A Lakewood newsletter from May outlines declining attendance and giving at the church that has led to more than half its spending going to utilities and maintenance.
Thirty-four people attended the church’s first service in August 1957. By 1999, the church had a new sanctuary with seating for 454 people, average worship attendance of 317 and $509,727 in giving, according to the newsletter. By 2016, attendance was down to 89, and giving was down to $247,000.
“Maintenance and utilities should be about 25 percent of a church’s expenditures,” the newsletter states. “Our expenditures for maintenance and utilities is 56 percent. This denies monies from programming and securing a full-time minister.”
The church considered merging with another or renting or selling part of its property but ultimately decided relocation would be the best option. A 7,500-square-foot facility would meet its needs, according to the newsletter.
Another newsletter from September mentioned approaching Harmony Science Academy about possible interest in the site.
“That has been explored, but nothing has happened to date,” Harrell said.
“They did reach out to us, since we are neighbors, and I passed it up the line,” said Lindy Ermoian, a principal at one of two Waco campuses operated by Houston-based Harmony. “At this time, we are not interested, in part because we just opened a new location, in the old H-E-B on South Valley Mills Drive. But you never know. Harmony could continue to grow.”
Almost 1,200 students attend Harmony schools in Waco, Ermoian said.
Asked about the future of Lakewood’s Childhood Development Center, which was formed in 1984, Harrell said he has no reason to believe it would be discontinued. It provides daycare for about 75 children.