Creative Land Acquisition In Superstition Springs
A friend of mine wanted to find land and develop facilities to build their dream church. Like a lot of churches we work with, they were meeting at a high school.
The church was Superstition Springs Community Church in Superstitions Springs, AZ. And yes, I did, suggest that they change their name – which they eventually did. Now it’s called Mission Church. At that time they had two or three hundred people attending and were trying to figure out how to get out of the school, how to find land and how to develop the facility of our dream when they didn’t have any money?
I sat down with the church and we formed a Land Acquisition Team, and I trained them on how we do creative land acquisition. It all revolves around the assumption that God made the planet, God owns all the land, and God can give you whatever he wants. What God has done for one of His churches, He can do for any of them. We trained the Land Acquisition Team and I had them go meet with the planning department in the city of Gilbert to find out what was happening in town. In any kind of development, in any town anywhere, everything starts at the planning department. I asked the Team to attend the monthly planning department meetings, and to pull the minutes going back about six months to find out what had happened in the last six months planning department meetings.
Here’s what they found: the city of Gilbert had authorized their parks and recreation department to go out and acquire 65 acres in the same area that we were looking. We thought ground zero for the church, the perfect place, would be right on Elliot Road, a little bit toward the east side of town where all the homes were being developed. There was still growing cotton out there. This plan went back to what I learned from Sam Walton: look at where things are growing, and then buy your land so that you’re right in the path of development. We already knew there was not 65 acres for sale around there. We needed 15 acres to meet the long-range goals of Mission Church. Since the city needed 65 acres, maybe we could find 80 acres for sale?
We got a map from an aerial photo and started looking for 80-acre parcels. One looked ideal and was right on Elliot Road. We went to the county tax assessor’s office, (you can learn a lot there,) and found out who owned the property, what it was assessed at, when they bought it and what they paid for it. Then we tracked down the owner, a farmer who was growing cotton. We asked if he would consider selling us 80 acres. The church thought I was nuts because they didn’t have any money. They didn’t even have money to put in escrow, and I was out there asking a farmer if he would sell us 80 acres. Anyway, the farmer said he didn’t know, hadn’t thought about it, but would like to see a church on the property. So he agreed to sell 80 acres to the church. I put the contract together, with an offer to purchase. The church leadership borrowed money from each other to come up with $10,000 in earnest money.
We had a 120-day escrow period. As soon as we had the contract to buy the farmer’s land in escrow, I went straight to the city and said, “Hey City, I understand your parks and recreation department is looking for 65 acres out on Elliot Road for a recreational park. I happen to have 65 acres that I would be willing to sell to you.” We had paid $10,000 an acre for the parcel – $800,000 for the land. I sold 65 acres to the city of Gilbert for $25,000 an acre. In the end we closed escrow in the morning when we bought the property from the farmer, and we closed escrow that same afternoon with the City of Gilbert. We had to, because the check wouldn’t clear otherwise, right?
We netted 15 acres free and clear and put $450,000 in the bank. Plus the City agreed to do all the street improvements, run all the utilities to the property, guaranteed that we would get out conditional use permit for our master site plan, and waived all of our building permit and inspection fees.
If you are meeting in a school now or if you are in a temporary location, and you’re thinking, “I don’t know how we’re ever going to get out of here,” remember this: God made the planet, God owns all the land, and God can do whatever he wants. What He did for Mission Church, He will do for you!
We can help you get moving. Call me now at: 719-439-3019.
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