We are very excited about the project here at 550 S McCaslin Blvd. and we want to make sure that, whether or not you call Ascent your home church, you are “in the know” about our plans here.
This property is important to the entire community, not just our church. We want to make it a place for EVERYONE. We see this as a chance to bring revitalization to a property that badly needs it and believe we are the right group to make it happen.
Please see our FAQs below, and please don’t hesitate to contact us here with any other questions you have that are unaddressed.
Why is Ascent Buying This Building?
Part of our mission has always been to be a church the city actually loves. We think the church’s role is to benefit the city in every way we can. 550 S McCaslin has sat empty for 10 years now and we LOVE the idea that our church can help revitalize a property that has been problematic for years.
It’s a tough building for developers who want to make a profit. There are just not big box retailers lining up for this kind of place like they used to. We believe Ascent is the perfect buyer for the property because we can utilize parts of the building no developer wants while saving the marketable parts for retail tax-generating purposes. We think it’s a great win-win for Louisville, its residents, and the church.
What are the plans for the property?
We are beginning a full planning cycle. As of now, we are focused on attempting to develop the two primary desires we are hearing from the community - great restaurants/eating and public gathering space. It will NOT be solely focused around our church, although Ascent will obviously be part of the development. The bigger goal is to make a space that is a hub of activity and community for Louisville and its surrounding cities. We’re always open to your creative ideas!
Is Ascent getting into the restaurant business?
Easy answer: No. We are identifying a developer(s) who will put their expertise to work for all commercial uses. Ascent is not going to be running restaurants. Our focus is to be a church and use our creativity to bless the community we live in.
Will there be other uses on the property besides the church and restaurants?
That’s very possible! We are actually getting a variety of inquiries about exciting potential uses. The building is big! 130,000 sq feet to be exact. Ascent plans on using a footprint of about 55K sq ft, so there is more room to be utilized.
Are there designs for the property yet? Can I see them?
We have some preliminary designs but aren’t distributing those quite yet. We want to make sure we have more advanced designs before we release them. We’re hoping we’ll have that for you later this fall. We think you’re going to love it!
Is Ascent trying to be a “mega-church?”
Our vision has always been to be a place that feels like home. We’re not driven by size. Anyone who has experienced Ascent knows that’s not us. We are a humble place and are driven by being a blessing to Louisville and the surrounding communities. We’re not looking to be a giant, although there is ALWAYS room for more people here. Our goal is to be a place where relationships happen. We like to say, “You will find friends here, not just friendly people.”
If you have an ounce of curiosity, come visit us on a Sunday morning at either 9 or 10:30am. We’re super casual and you can blend right in easily. No previous church experience is required.
What about this residential zoning amendment? What is Ascent thinking with that?
We want what is best for the City and we recognize many city residents are opposed to more density. We will continue our conversations about what makes the most sense for the City’s future and are taking a posture of listening. The residential zoning amendment has been tabled by Louisville City Council for now - we will continue to work with City leaders, residents and our neighbors on next steps.
Will the property be taxable at all?
Any part of the property that is being used as a “for-profit” use will generate tax. Ascent’s footprint will be non-taxable. We want to bring tax revenue back to the property and are excited that our ownership will help enable that. We want to make sure we’re not a place that takes money from our schools, city services, etc. That would undermine our mission to be a blessing to the City.
Did the City change the applicable zoning to allow the church to be there?
No, the zoning for the property already allowed for church use at 550 S McCaslin.
Is Ascent “super-rich?” How were they able to buy this building?
This is our favorite question we’ve heard. We wish we were super-rich, but we’re totally not. :-) We have spent time and effort raising money from the hundreds of people who call Ascent their home and believe in our mission and vision. We have had hundreds of people donate to this effort - there is not some “mega-backer” who is funding this all behind the scenes. It’s a grass-roots effort of people who think we can do something special to bless this community. And, yes, we need a loan to make it happen to like most other organizations would.
How much did Ascent pay for the building?
Our contract says we can’t share this yet. If something fell through, that would undermine the current owner’s ability to negotiate with future buyers. The public has access to the sales amount upon closing, therefore, anyone will be able to see the final figures.
Is Ascent just “money-hungry” by bringing commercial uses to the property?
Trust us, there are 1,000,001 better ways to make money than being a church. No, we give away much of our time, energy and resources to make the community better. If you ask around about us, we hope you’ll hear stories of generosity. That’s essential to our mission. We have an initiative with the Chief Hayes projects where we help folks in the surrounding area fix up their houses and or housing complexes. We run a Christmas (Free) Store to people in need with the Louisville Police Department. We host countless non-profit functions and BVSD events all for free. Any income we make off commercial purposes will go into reducing our debt and to continue to build our practice of generosity to those who need it.
When is Ascent closing on the property?
That’s still in the works but we’re scheduled to close later this fall or early 2020 at the latest. Buying a property like this isn’t like buying a house. There are a lot more details to be worked out before closing. We’re definitely getting there and on track.
What is the timeline for development?
We will need to go through the planning and permitting process with the City of Louisville. We’d like to submit for permitting and an application later this fall and, who knows, if all goes well, we could start construction in 2020.
Doesn’t Ascent own the property out on 96th St. too?
Yep. We sure do and need to sell it. We really don’t want to own two properties. It is currently under contract to a buying developer who is working with the City on their plans. To be very transparent: It’s essential to our Ascent’s plans to sell that 96th St. property. We need the cash out of it to make the 550 development happen.
Why did Ascent change plans and decide to sell 96th St.?
There were many factors that came together for us to purchase 550 S McCaslin. Honestly, when the building became available to us at the right price point, it was an easy choice. 550 S McCaslin was more affordable, bigger and has more parking than our proposed project at 96th St. More importantly, it allows Ascent to help bring very needed revitalization to a property that has been tough to solve for years now. The combination of those issues made it the obvious path forward.
We hope this helps! We welcome your ideas, input, additional questions, concerns, whatever. Please feel free to email us at 550SMcCaslin@ascentcc.org, It’s going to be an adventure to see this unfold and we are glad to be working for the benefit of the great place we all get to live in.
Best to you, Jim, Bill, and the Ascent Team.