By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, with which the Grace Capital Church is affiliated, this week completed its purchase of the property at 22 Pleasant St. from Goodwill Industries of Northern New England for the listed price of $350,000.
Pastor Mark Warren of the Grace Capital Church said Friday, "We're very excited to be staying downtown and being part of the investment that will make our community thrive." He said that the church will undertake renovations and improvements to the building with an eye to begin holding services there in September.
Since October 2012, the church has leased 22,000 square feet of space in the building attached to the downtown parking garage. Its new home sits on a on a 0.46-acre lot with 11,652 square feet of largely undivided space on one floor. Warren said that with seating for some 200 worshippers and a congregation numbering about 350, the church will be holding two services.
"I expect we will outgrow the space," he said, "then we can rent out the Colonial Theatre on Sundays.
Grace Capital Church was founded in 1996 by Peter Bonanno and, after meeting in private homes and school rooms around Concord, moved to a building in Pembroke in 2005. Soon after being established, the church affiliated with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Protestant Pentecostal denomination begun by the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson in 1932 and headquartered in Los Angeles. The congregation grew rapidly, with about 1,000 worshippers, many of them from the Lakes Region, attending two services on Sundays. In October 2010, the church opened in the Lakes Region, holding its services at the Laconia Middle School and maintaining an office on Canal Street before moving to the building attached to the downtown parking garage.
The Grace Capital Church has been the major tenant of the private portion of the parking garage complex, which consists of seven commercial units and 36 spaces in the garage itself owned by Downtown Crossing LLC. Earlier this year, Daniel DiSangro, the principal of Downtown Crossing LLC, expected to sell the property to Genesis Behavioral Health, but the deal foundered when it was discovered $200,000 would be required to repair the private part of the garage.
Soon afterwards Warren announced that the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel had entered a purchase and sales agreement to acquire the Goodwill building on behalf of the Grace Capital Church. In anticipation that the church would relocate, DiSangro accepted an offer to purchase the commercial units from Steven Borgi, who plans to open a fitness center in the space vacated by the church. This transaction has yet to close.
Meanwhile, the city has entered a purchase and sales agreement to acquire the privately owned portion of the parking garage, consisting of 36 spaces and the southernmost stairwell. When that transaction closes, the city will own the entire parking garage with no obligation to maintain it to ensure access to privately owned parking spaces.