From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
What if your landlord was a church?

April 6, 2005 12:25 AM

Crossroads Community Church in Alaska is looking to purchase the 200,000 square foot Cottonwood Creek Mall. Their plan is to take over one of the anchor spots, and lease out the rest of the mall to other tenants. No more liquor stores, but they hope to nab a Best Buy or at least a Barnes & Noble.

Ken Kincaid, an elder in the church: "Our vision for the mall is to re-establish it as the community center for the Valley."

More from the archive in Business, Religion.

What if your landlord was a church? (04.06.2005)

Next Entry: The growing Catholic/Evangelical alliance (04.09.2005)
Previous Entry: Church 2.0 (04.03.2005)

Read the 11 comments.


As long as they didn't have any odd religious provisions in the lease would there be any difference?

Landlords are already odd ducks as far as I've seen. Some are a little more in your business than others, but they all like to protect their investments and shoulder you around like a chess piece. The church might do so by getting into your signage, your display, your asthetics, your crowds, your menu.. but it's all allowable and you as the leasee have the power to either negotiate it, or leave.


Wed Apr 6 2005 9:35 AM

Tom from Madison:

I am fine with churches as landlords as long as they give up their tax-exempt status as part of the deal. Otherwise we'll end up with a lot of businesses claiming to be churches just to avoid taxes.

...Actually, Falwell, Robertson et al are already doing that!

Wed Apr 6 2005 10:08 AM

Jim Gilliam:

Good point. They will probably have to have a for-profit entity handling the mall itself and all the tenaents, then the non-profit Church can rent the space. It'll probably be a messier corporate structure than that.

Wed Apr 6 2005 11:34 AM


...and as long as they don't try to enforce their "moral code" on what types of books and other items stores can carry.

Wed Apr 6 2005 12:18 PM


Sounds like Landoverbaptist in the flesh!

Wed Apr 6 2005 1:29 PM


Malls are very problematic, because they are very much like a public space, but they are privately owned. You don't have the usual rights which apply to public spaces. They can kick you out at any time and for any reason.

So far, our malls in this country are owned by corporations who only have one agenda - maximizing the profits of their retail stores who rent from them, and thereby maximizing their rents collected. This means they want to create a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere conducive to shopping. If you are shabbily dressed, handing out flyers, protesting, or loitering, expect to be kicked out of the mall.

What happens when entities with different agendas acquire malls (not necessarily a church)? Will they restrict which movies can be shown in the mall? Will they bar stores such as Victoria's Secret, on moral grounds? Will they shut down the store on the Sabbath? Will they actively promote a certain political point of view?

Thu Apr 7 2005 3:21 PM

Geoff DeOld:

Yes, malls are very much like public space, but they are not public space. They act in lieu of traditional public space in cities and other urban conditions that lack the possibility of developing traditional space. The mall and retail space in general control space to limit the amount of 'deviant' behaviour, or degree of variables that might impact a retailers ability to maximize profit. The contemporary retail diagram relies on separating inside from outside and this from that. Of course it benefits the church (or other entities)to acquire a spatial diagram that allows the possibility of excluding those (activities or entities) that don't fit your belief of agenda.

Fri Apr 8 2005 2:00 AM


I've heard for years that the largest stockholder on the NYSE is the catholic church. I think it is pretty common for churches to own commerical property. The no property taxes on churches is also pretty nice. Does that mean the rents will be lower?

Fri Apr 8 2005 5:14 PM

Jim Gilliam:

I recently learned that churches also get a fairly liberal interpretation of "fair use" for any copyrighted content that is used for "religious purposes."

Fri Apr 8 2005 7:21 PM

Sponge Bob:

The property the church sits on is free of property tax, but a building being rented falls into commercial property -taxed like everyone else's.

Mon Apr 11 2005 11:11 AM

Tom from Madison:

There's an underlieing question here:

Why are churches, particularly Fundamentalist Christian Churches buying real estate and running shopping malls?

Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Why are some churches inviting them in?

Mon Apr 11 2005 12:17 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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