Former ROC property to become residential school for adults

Joey Matthews | 12/11/2015, 6:44 a.m.
The North Side building and property that once served as home to the Richmond Outreach Center’s School of Urban Ministry ...
The building and property located at the North Side intersection of Chamberlayne Avenue and Brookland Park Boulevard sold for $875,000 on Oct. 30. Photo by Sandra Sellars

The North Side building and property that once served as home to the Richmond Outreach Center’s School of Urban Ministry has a new owner.

FG Chamberlayne LLC purchased the 33,000-square-foot building and 2.17-acre property at 3000 Chamberlayne Ave.

The sale on Oct. 30 was for $875,000, according to Bill Reynolds, senior vice president for CBRE, which sells commercial real estate and handled the sale for the church formerly known as the Richmond Outreach Center.

Aisha J. Bullard, a Richmond-based corporate attorney who is the sole member of the LLC, said she plans to open an adult education center at the Chamberlayne Avenue site.

The private school “will offer certificate and associate level degree programs in business administration, skilled trades, medical billing, construction management, culinary arts, paralegal studies and criminal justice,” she told the Free Press last week.

“The program will emphasize workforce development and encourage volunteerism and community service to maintain the same community connection as the building’s prior owner,” she added of the Richmond Outreach Center’s efforts to involve its school’s students in community improvement efforts.

Ms. Bullard said she is awaiting approval by the city of special use permits for the property, similar to those issued to the former ROC church.

Among her plans for the site, she envisions having about 40 students ages 18 and older living in dormitories at the site as they pursue their degrees. She said the school also may consider having day students as well, depending on what the special use permits allow.

Columbia Education Center LLC will operate the educational program, Ms. Bullard said.

Originally organized as Columbia Day School in 2007, Columbia has provided educational services and supportive programs in Richmond and Danville. Ms. Bullard said a new owner now operates the school in Danville and that counseling and workforce development services still continue at the Richmond program at 2919 Chamberlayne Ave.

The ROC church bought the property from the Eastern Star Home in 2006 for $850,000 and opened its School of Urban Ministry. When the ROC church initially put the property on the market in October 2014, it sought $1.3 million for the building and site.

The ROC church renamed itself Celebration Church and Outreach Center in June in the wake of a sex scandal involving former ROC pastor Geronimo Aguilar. He was sentenced in October to 40 years in prison for sexually assaulting two young sisters under the age of 14 while he was serving as a youth pastor at their family’s church in Fort Worth, Texas, in the mid-1990s.

Since the problems involving Mr. Aguilar first were reported in the spring of 2013, the former ROC church has shed several high-priced properties, including its former worship center at 6255 Old Warwick Road. That property was sold to the city for $1.7 million and now is being used as a youth community center. Also sold was the lavish parsonage off River Road that the pastor and his family lived in that was worth more than $500,000.