APPRAISING CHURCHES IN PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY MARYLAND.
WASHINGTON DC METROPOLITAN AREA
The market for churches in the Prince George area of Washington DC is interesting. The zoning commission has
become anti-church in recent years due to the fact that churches are exempt from taxation. Due to a huge demand
for churches in the area, it has become a trend to buy commercial buildings and convert them to churches. This
process results in a substantial increase in value. There have been several examples of churches that have sold
twice in a short period of time with drastic increases in value.
The subject was originally built as a multi-tenant indoor mall and has been used as such since its construction. The
property is located between Marlboro Pike and the famous Pennsylvania Avenue. Marlboro Pike is used to access
Andrews Air Force Base, which is the landing site of Air Force One. That being said, Marlboro Pike is a poorly
traveled side street that is not heavily developed and still has much vacant land. There is a small pocket of retail
and office use in the subject’s immediate location; however, it is not sufficient to sustain a mall. Additionally, the
subject has non-accessible frontage on Pennsylvania Avenue, which should give the property good exposure.
However, due to the green buffer zone along Pennsylvania Avenue, vehicles have little or no visibility of the
subject. Therefore, the only retail that could be supported in the subject’s location is a small neighborhood center.
Consequently, the subject has seen high vacancy rates and decreasing rent levels.
The other side of this coin is churches. Several years ago, a church purchased a large tract of industrial land and
built a very large church campus. Because non-profit organizations are not taxed, the municipality grew frustrated
with this loss of potentially taxable industrial land. Their solution was to restrict churches to residentially zoned
property only. Not surprisingly, the opposite affect was achieved. Instead of being kicked out of commercial
sectors, churches began buying existing commercial property and converting them to churches. Since retail
vacancies have been persistently high, the retailers were happy to sell the commercial buildings at a premium.
Once the buildings were converted to churches, they sold at extremely large premiums.
The result of this situation is that retail properties are worth considerably more as a church then they were as a retail
or office building.
OTHER ARTICLES ON CHURCH APPRAISALS
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