From its inception, The Peoples Church has been steadfast in this one purpose: spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, here, and around the globe. We have always lived beyond our street address. In fact, The Peoples Church has moved four times since it was founded. Through each of these moves, we have openly declared our dependence on God.
In late 2017, The Peoples Church received a letter of intent from a developer outlining their desire to purchase our current property at 374 Sheppard Avenue East with a property at 1121 Leslie Street and enough additional cash to facilitate the building of a new church.
As we consider this opportunity, we turn to God for his wisdom, discernment, and unity.
Oswald J. Smith had pastored at several churches and regularly held mission conferences at Massey Hall. It was during this time he received the call to plant a church with a globally-minded, gospel-centred mission.
Having seen the conferences held at Massey Hall grow, Smith moved into this building and formed The Peoples Church. Still with a strong emphasis on mission but now with a permanent home.
Bloor Street East
After outgrowing their current church home, The Peoples Church moved to 100 Bloor Street East where the congregation continued to increase in numbers.
374 Sheppard Avenue East
Seeing that Toronto was growing rapidly to the north, The Peoples Church purchased property at 374 Sheppard Avenue East and constructed a church. Today it remains largely unchanged from its original design and the city has blossomed around it.
1121 Leslie Street
374 Sheppard Avenue East
- We are established in this neighbourhood
- None of the work required to move
- $8-10 million investment needed for maintenance and upgrades
- Close to the 401, on a major street and close to a subway stop
- About 30% of our congregation live within 5 kilometres of the church, it is their neighbourhood church
- Facilities are at capacity
1121 Leslie Street
- Larger property with more room for ministry and parking
- Ability to build to for our current and future needs
- A move that will include working with the city, builders and new neighbours
- Occupancy at 374 Sheppard Avenue East until new building is move-in ready
- Sufficient resources to build and have some left over
- Moving to a new neighbourhood with different demographics
As a congregation, we’ll pray and seek God’s direction. Together we’ll pray for:
Who is the developer?
Metrus Properties currently owns 1121 Leslie Street. They are a local development company, founded in 1972 with over 15 million square feet of industrial, retail and office space.
Can we trust the developer?
Yes, Metrus Properties has a solid reputation in the marketplace and is part of the Condrain Group. A family-owned company, originally founded in 1954 by Alfredo, Angelo, and Antonio De Gasperis, Condrain Group has become one of the largest and most successful infrastructure construction companies in North America.
Why is the developer wanting to sell 1121 Leslie Street?
Metrus Properties purchased 1121 Leslie Street in 2005 for $15,200,000. In 2006 they applied to rezone the property to permit three residential apartment buildings and two office buildings. This application was declined, and the property has remained vacant since that time.
What would the developer do with 374 Sheppard Avenue East?
There are plans to build a mixed residential/commercial development like what we see popping up all along Sheppard Avenue East from Yonge Street to the 404.
How will a decision be made whether to move or stay?
Since receiving the letter of intent from the developers, we have been asking God for wisdom, discernment and unity. Over the summer, our board of directors and staff leadership will be meeting to discern whether we are being led to move or stay. Updates will be provided to the congregation through the summer.
Will the decision be looked at from a strictly financial perspective?
No, this is a very complex decision with multiple facets and implications. Certainly, the financial realities of the opportunity are a significant part of the discussion, but ultimately, we are asking God to help us discern if this is, in every way, the right decision for The Peoples Church.
How long has this been under consideration?
The church received an initial offer in late 2017. While we regularly receive offers to buy this property they have never contained the provisions that have been included in this offer.
Have we explored other scenarios and entertained other options?
Yes, we have been looking at options related to redeveloping the Sheppard property or relocating to a new site for many years. In fact, when the church considered a move to Leslie Street and Major MacKenzie in Richmond Hill, the Board wrote to the congregation, “When the church moved to Sheppard Avenue we all thought there was more room (4.7 acres) than would ever be required. However, we once again find our facilities over used…” So this topic has been on our minds for some time, but we have never entertained an offer even close to the one that is before us now.
Have we considered that, if we don’t sell the property, the Sheppard land value is bound to go up?
Yes, we have, but that reality alone should not prevent us from moving ahead with a sale at this time. There are other important factors to consider which might outweigh the significance of the increased value of 5 acres of land on Sheppard. Besides, if this piece of land increases in value it is likely that the value of any piece of land we might want to buy will also increase in value.
Will there be a professional appraisal done on our current location in the open market to see the current and future value of our location?
Yes, several appraisals are already underway to determine the current market value of both properties.
Is there room for negotiation with the developer?
Yes, there is room for negotiation and we will have to bear in mind that a negotiation is a 2-way street. Finalizing the terms for a Purchase Agreement will be one of the most challenging parts of the process, but it does appear at this stage that a deal can be formed which is mutually beneficial.
How will the church avoid liability if the deal fails because of bankruptcy?
The initial Letter of Intent, and any subsequent Purchase Agreement, would include standard clauses allowing us to terminate the agreement for a variety of reasons including if the other party files for bankruptcy or is forced into bankruptcy by a third party.
What is a “vendor take-back mortgage”?
It sounds complicated, but it’s really not: a vendor take-back mortgage (VTB) is a type of mortgage in which the seller (Peoples) offers to lend funds to the buyer (Metrus) to help facilitate the purchase of the property (374 Sheppard Ave E). We anticipate that the cash on closing would be equal to approximately 66% of the total and the VTB would be for the remaining 33%.
If the value of Sheppard declines before the new building is completed, how will that impact us?
Metrus is assuming the risk related to potential declining value of Sheppard property. Based on decades of experience in the land development business and access to sophisticated market analysis, they consider that to be a very unlikely scenario.
Would Peoples own the new property and building?
That’s easy: yes!
Will we be left with a large debt to move?
No, the way that the deal is structured allows us to sell the Sheppard property, buy the Leslie property, build a new church and have some cash left over.
If we decide to move, when would it happen?
Not for at least 3 years! As you can imagine, the design/approval/build process is very complex so if we started January 1, 2019 and there were no delays, we could move in on December 31, 2021. It is more likely to be sometime in 2022.
Will we be able to stay at Sheppard rent-free while the new church is being built at Leslie?
Yes, the proposed terms would allow us to occupy the building on Sheppard rent-free for a period of no less than 3 years or until the new building is complete. Peoples would be responsible for all property management, operating costs, taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs and maintenance including capital improvements during that time.
Would the developer be hired to build the new church?
No, we believe that it would be in our best interest to hire a firm that specializes in this kind of construction. The extent of our involvement with Metrus Properties would be for the exchange of the two properties.
What could the building be like?
If the decision is made to move, due diligence will be taken to hire the right design firm to walk us through a vision process allowing for extensive input from staff and congregation to ensure that the new building meets our present and future ministry requirements.
How might this affect parking?
The amount of parking spaces will be approximately double. In addition, a main transfer station that is part of the Eglinton LRT will be located just a few hundred metres from the new property, and both north and southbound bus routes have stops directly outside of the new property. We would also continue to make arrangement to use both public and private parking lots in our area.
As the property is significantly larger, would the cost and overhead to maintain the new place be more?
Yes, but the increased cost of maintaining a larger campus will be offset to some extent with savings generated by a more energy efficient building. It costs roughly $6 – $7 per square foot to maintain our current building. This is in line with industry standards for commercial buildings and represents about $550,000 per year. The cost of hydro alone is approximately 30% of that figure. While we do all that we can to conserve energy, there is only so much that you can do in many parts of the building because of old technology. In a new building, modern energy-conserving technologies and systems would be utilized to reduce energy costs.
What is the breakdown of the $8-10 million investment needed for maintenance and upgrades at our current location?
This is not the right place for a detailed breakdown but please see the drop-down list below for a summary of some of our basic maintenance needs. Of course, not all of these items need immediate attention, but we do know that long-term occupancy of this campus will require significant investment over time just to maintain what we have. If we want to move ahead with new initiatives, then we will have to invest in new technologies and systems.
Maintenance Upgrades for 374 Sheppard Avenue East
|West Wing Renovation||$1,624,000|
|Parking Lot Renovation||$968,800|
|Kitchen Renovations (Phase II)||$91,000|
|Energy Management Systems||$1,416,800|
Is there a project committee and if so, how can one volunteer to be on the committee?
At present, a sub-committee of the board is overseeing this initial discovery phase, but if we do elect to move ahead with a relocation, a multi-disciplined project committee will be formed, and the congregation will be notified of the opportunity to volunteer. There will also be many other ways for members of the congregation to help with a project of this magnitude. We’ll all have to pitch in to make it work!