|Deal to Sell Presbyterian Camps Called off
By Jim Hayden
October 9, 2010
Saugatuck, MI — Plans for a group to buy the 130-acre Presbyterian Camps in Saugatuck have fallen through. The land now might be put up for sale at "an optimum time and price," according to a statement by the Presbytery of Chicago.
Lakeshore Christian Camping, a nonprofit group that failed earlier this year to raise money to purchase the site south of Oval Beach, had no comment on Friday's announcement.
"I would just ask that you promote Lakeshore Christian Camping as a viable solution to save and preserve the Presbyterian Camps," said Jennifer Schuham of the camping group.
The Presbytery of Chicago announced last year it planned to sell the camp to help cover debts related to $11 million in loans to settle sexual abuse claims from the 1990s.
The $9.5 million proposal from the unnamed Michigan partnership would have preserved the existing camping ministry, including summer and year-round programming. The plan also gave the Presbytery time to prepare for the option to buy back most of the property for camping.
The sale was contingent upon the successful negotiation of that "lease with option to buy" agreement by Friday.
"The Presbytery terminated the contract because we have been unable to negotiate a mutually agreeable lease by today's deadline," said the Rev. Robert C. Reynolds.
The general sale still needs to be approved Tuesday by the Presbytery Assembly. That body would have to approve any final sale agreement as well.
"If this recommendation is approved on Oct. 12,the Presbytery will have discretion to market the property and to consider any reasonable offers with proof of financing," Reynolds said. "This will include proposals from previously identified prospective buyers such as Lakeshore Christian Camping and the most recent partnership group."
Lakeshore Christian Camping terminated its contract Aug. 11, having raised more than $1.3 million in pledges toward the $12 million purchase and renovation price.
The camp was founded in 1899 by George Gray to bring inner city children and mothers to the lakeshore for respite. In 1921, the land was bought by the Church Extension Board of the Presbytery of Chicago and youth retreats began.
The camp land is strictly zoned, limiting what can be built on the property.
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