Sometimes even a house of God has to know when to cash out.
With land prices soaring in Miami, a nondenominational church plans to sell a two-acre bayfront plot in Edgewater that has been its home since 1961.
“We were faced with making costly improvements and renovations in order to remain here,” said the Rev. Christopher Jackson, who has led the congregation at Unity on the Bay for nine years. “Property values in Edgewater have gone up considerably and we’ve been approached by several developers over the years.”
Jackson said the church had received offers of more than $40 million before deciding to place its land on the market.
The property at 412 NE 22nd St. sits directly north of the luxury condo tower Paramount Bay and west of an older, mid-rise residential building. It has an unobstructed view of Biscayne Bay looking to the southeast.
“This is definitely an ideal site for a high-rise condo,” said broker Adam Greenberg of Newmark Grubb Frank Knight, which is handling the sale. “It’s that southernmost district where Edgewater meets the Omni. It’s a pedestrian-friendly area that’s very close to the urban core.”
Unity hasn’t set an asking price, but Greenberg said he expects the land to trade for at least $40 million.
Other waterfront sites have sold for massive prices in the last year, including a 1.25-acre parcel at the mouth of the Miami River that went for $125 million.
The church’s property is home to three buildings: a mansion and guest house built in 1916 that serve as offices and classroom space, and a sanctuary built when Unity took over the land more than 50 years ago.
Jackson hopes the proceeds of the sale will allow the church to relocate and build a school, performing arts space and alternative healing center for practices such as yoga, as well a new place of worship.
The current location is in need of serious repair, Jackson said. “Whenever we have any rainfall at all, we refer to our parking lot as Lake Unity,” he said.
Unity has a reputation as an inclusive congregation. In January, the church hosted a wedding for about 20 same-sex couples. It draws between 500 and 700 people to its Sunday morning services and first opened in Miami in 1927.
The church is looking at new locations in the Wynwood area and along the Biscayne corridor, said Eddie Dominguez, president of Unity’s board of trustees.
Peter Mekras, a broker at Continental Real Estate who is not affiliated with the deal, said the church should have no problem selling its land.
“Large-scale waterfront sites that have unobstructed view corridors like this don’t really exist anymore,” Mekras said.
Even in a market that’s cooling down, Unity will have plenty of offers, he added.
“If any developer is going to roll the dice — even if they feel like the market is changing — it’s going to be on a property like this,” he said.