Housing Complex

National Community Church Pouring Serious Money into Barracks Row

It was already an impressive enough feat for the National Community Church–which has thus far limited its District ministries to its basement space at Ebenezers Coffee and movie theaters–to pick up such a large footprint on 8th Street SE south of the freeway, for redevelopment into a coffeeshop, offices, and performance space. According to property records, that set of three purchases totaled $6,875,000.

But the news broke this weekend that the NCC isn't going to wait for that lengthy approval and construction process to finish up before expanding its services: It picked up the People's Church at 535 8th Street SE for a cool $3 million, while its current congregation moves to Prince Georges County, where most of its parishioners are from anyway. That brings NCC's total stake in Barracks Row to nearly $10 million, before a dime has been spent on renovation or construction (NCC hopes to remake the People's Church into a theater capable of screening movies, which will require significant upgrades).

And they're not even stopping there. Pastor Mark Batterson told me a couple months ago that they've identified a location east of the river for what he calls a "Dream Center." The Church's eventual vision is for 20 locations in the D.C. area by 2020.

Where does all that capital come from? Can't be selling coffee. Batterson says they're just fortunate to have a generous congregation, whom he characterized in a January interview: "We certainly touch a cross-section of folks who hold political power, but the bulk of our congregation are the twenty-somethings who are not only drafting legislation, advising members of Congress, and making decisions that affect districts," Batterson said. "They are also the future leaders of our country."

And Capitol Hill real estate, it seems.

  • Dan Maceda

    Good for them. Wonder how this works out for real estate taxes and business taxes? Would like to see more of the churches whose congregations have left the city move with them sell their properties to tax paying entities and relieve some of the Sunday parking problems

  • Rick Mangus

    What a scam, I'm going to start a church in DC by getting a correspondence degree in divinity like so many others and ride the no tax gravy train!

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    good point, dan. how many of these properties will be taxed commercially, lydia, and how many (if any) will be taken off the tax rolls?

  • http://www.abc.com alex

    Good work

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Wow. Good story. The property tax question is an important one. Obviously, with the People's Church, the building is likely already tax exempt. But the property south of the SE-SW Freeway is not.

    One of the reasons I like the idea of a church meeting in a theater is that multitasks so to speak the use of the space, providing additional revenue to support a theater and helping to preserve it, while not taking up space for a church that is used only a few hours/week.

    And I hadn't even considered the tax implications of this...

  • Jacques

    Thta actually raises a good point -- if the coffeeshop (and maybe the theatre as well) are selling goods, it seems like the "business" aspects should be subject to tax.

    (That, at least, is the case for other non-profits, such as student groups at universities, that operate retail establishments).

    While the property will likely not be subject to tax, the retail aspects should, unless there are special church provisions I'm unaware of, other than the regular non-profit exemptions.

  • http://www.theaterchurch.com Mark Batterson


    Thanks for the article! Excited about being on the 500 block of 8th!

    On the tax question, churches are exempt from real estate taxes if they use it for church purposes only, but "use" is the key term. We own and operate Ebenezers Coffeehouse in NE and we pay both real estate and business taxes on those portions because it's a business (even though we give all the profits to local community events and humanitarian efforts we're involved in around the world).

    If we have a commercial function (i.e. Theater) then it would be taxed.


  • David C

    While $3M seems like a lot for the People's Church. In 2005 they had a deal to sell it for $2.5M, and the neighborhood has gotten more desirable since then.


  • Adam M.

    I also like the potential of more people spilling over into businesses especially the restaurants surrounding this location. More revenue will certainly be brought is with a theater and a church. I know that Ebenezers Coffeehouse is a for profit business that pays taxes and they give a lot of money out to the community.

    I also believe they will bring life and bring a fresh look with excellence to the Row as well. I see this as being a win-win for all. I think this has potential to add value to our community and commerce and create a larger positive buzz for our community.

    Neighbors let us not have a knee jerk reaction and let us look at how they upgraded 2nd and F street with an amazing coffeehouse. They do things well.

  • Adam M.

    I also feel like we must not assume and presume too much just because a church is moving into our area. NCC does a lot of great things within our community that others can learn from and can be involved in. Just because they have church in their title we should not make quick assumptions without understanding the facts and we need not to be so judgmental when their beliefs don't always line up with our own. They have proven themselves to be a productive members to our Capitol Hill and they have done so much for families and the people and they do things with quality and excellence.

    Can we evaluate and see what they do before we assume and presume.

  • http://www.yoursite.com Richard Shaberdge

    It's very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  • http://www.abc.com Luigi

    Just because they have church in their title we should not make quick assumptions without understanding the facts and we need not to be so judgmental when their beliefs don't always line up with our own.

  • Rick Mangus

    It's a store front church scams plain and simple, your either a business or a place of worship you can't have it both ways!

  • Rick Mangus

    Correction: scam not scams.

  • http://www.theaterchurch.com Mark Batterson

    We'd certainly welcome any thoughts and ideas from neighbors at it relates to the space. Our initial thought is that a theater would add tremendous value...

    We're all ears!

    Our goal is to create a space that doesn't just serve our purposes, but the community's purposes. That's why we built a coffeehouse instead of a church building at 2nd and F. We wanted it to be a seven days a week space.


  • Naomi

    A movie theater would be wonderful there! I think it would do a lot of good for the neighborhood. Maybe an art-house theater? I know there are a lot of parents in the neighborhood who would love a place to see a family film without going to Chinatown or Georgetown.

    Maybe we'll be in that camp soon.

    We just purchased our first property, in Eastern Market. :)

  • C.

    Mark Batterson - 1
    Haters - 0

  • http://koaela.edu gjiaowejawio

    This is the penalise National Community Church Pouring Serious Money into Barracks Row - Housing Complex blog for anyone who wants to attempt out out nigh this message. You mark so overmuch its virtually exhausting to reason with you (not that I truly would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new aerobatics on a content thats been backhand nearly for geezerhood. Precise block, just eager!

  • Sharon Lewis

    To the Minister Mark Batterson and wife Lora: I'm so VERY THANKFUL for the work you have been called to do their in DC area. My daughter moved to Arlington in July this year/2012 and she has been very blessed to find Barrack Row first and now Ballston locale as her church family and place of worship. PRAISING GOD for you, your family and staff and ALL their work for our Lord, Christ Jesus! Just four months at the church, my 22-year old daughter is VERY excited about your Dream Center! We will be praying for the funds to come in and this community work and outreach for the DC area.

    Partnering with you,
    Sharon Lewis in Winchester, Virginia