No one submitted an upset bid to acquire the Greater Cleveland Avenue Christian Church property on Lansing Drive by 5 p.m. on Monday, when a 10-day waiting period expired following the foreclosure sale of the property on May 24, trustee Stan Dean said.
Apex Bank, based in Tennessee, was the only bidder on May 24 when the church and its 15-acre site were put up for auction in a foreclosure sale at the Forsyth County Courthouse.
Apex, the holder of a promissory note and deed of trust secured by the church property, entered the sole bid of $3.5 million for the church.
Dean said Monday he has to finish some paperwork in the next several days to formally make the transfer of the property to Apex Bank, but that the expiration of the upset bid period means no one else can acquire the property.
The bank’s bid essentially amounted to the payoff amount on its claim, which stood at $3.3 million when the church went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018.
Attorney Daniel Bruton, representing Apex Bank, said Monday that the bank would presumably be listing the property for sale with the finalization of the transfer.
The church has a storied history in the African American community as one of the city’s oldest congregations. It was founded in 1893, and has been led by Bishop Sheldon McCarter for the past 30 years. Occupying modern buildings built in 1999 and in 2000, it has used the name Greater Church in recent years.
No one was answering telephone calls at the church on Monday afternoon. A woman seen pushing a cart loaded with boxes from the church around 4 p.m. said she had no connection with the church, and that she did not know what the church’s plans were for conducting services this Sunday.
The woman appeared to be the only person on the property. A white car was parked in a slot labeled for the finance director, but the woman said no one connected with the car was on the property.
Apex Bank had offered to settle with Greater Church for $2.7 million last year, and that had some people thinking the church property might go for a discount when the foreclosure auction was held on May 24.
The sale went forward after bankruptcy Judge Catharine Aron ruled against the church on May 22, during a hearing lasting almost two hours in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The church was trying to change the terms of a reorganization plan in a way that would have allowed it to stay on the property.
The property consists of a church sanctuary and family life center on the 15-acre site.
The property has a tax value of $6.3 million, although the church paid no property tax because of its religious exemption.
The church borrowed the money leading to its current troubles in 2009. The original lender was Southern Community Bank and Trust, and the amount of the loan was $3.75 million. Apex Bank, based in Tennessee, acquired the loan in 2016.
The church proposed and agreed to a reorganization plan earlier this year in which the church would either obtain new financing or surrender the property. When an April 20 deadline passed and the property was not turned over to Apex, the bank moved forward with the foreclosure sale.