A demolition crew last week marked the end of a three-year wrangle between elders at the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ and Sylvan Park/Richland Park neighborhood activists over the future of the church, situated at Charlotte and 46th avenues. Beginning with the careful removal of the historic stained-glass windows, the crew was expected to bring the church to a pile of rubble early this week.
The Gothic Revival church was built in 1921 and had become the subject of much furor in recent years, after church elders worked out a deal with developers to put a Rite Aid Pharmacy there. But that deal evaporated under the heat of neighborhood opposition, and elders had been planning to demolish the building since.
The congregation merged with the West Nashville Heights Church of Christ in November 2007 and has been trying to unload the property since. The merged congregation has purchased property in West Meade, where Charlotte Avenue member and building committee Jim Orman said they would build a new church.
Orman said elders are asking $3.75 million for the parcel of land. Nearby properties have recently sold for significantly less than that per square foot; Orman called the asking price “competitive.”
Orman blamed Metro Councilman Jason Holleman for inflaming the rhetoric over the Rite-Aid deal. Holleman was largely responsible for the push to save the church building from the wrecking ball.
“We have been advised that there is such a cloud over the building that nobody in their right mind would buy it,” Orman said when asked why they bulldozed the church.
Holleman said he would’ve liked to find a developer to do infill at the church building; the actual parcel of property contains other buildings and a parking lot. He said there were rezoning options that could’ve allowed for a creative reuse of the building.
“I think it’s a tremendous loss for our neighborhood, and it’s a blow to the redevelopment potential along Charlotte Avenue,” Holleman said. “That corner really is sort of a prominent feature, both on the corridor and for the neighborhood.”
Orman said the group doesn’t have a buyer for the property.