The effort to keep Living Way Church Maui at its Happy Valley home continued Friday with a courthouse auction for the foreclosed property on which the church sits, but it will be another month or two before the church knows whether it will be able to gain control of the property.
The church in the old T.K. Supermarket that has become a center of religious, social and educational activity in the community had hoped to bid $365,000 on the property Friday, the amount owed to primary creditor First Hawaiian Bank. However, a secondary creditor was added following a hearing Wednesday. North Shore at Waiehu LLC will look to collect some of the approximately $547,000, plus interest, owed from Revitalize Wailuku, the foreclosed owner of the property.
So Friday at Hoapili Hale, the Wailuku courthouse, there was only one bid, which was submitted ahead of time, by First Hawaiian Bank, which bid the amount it was owed. The case is headed to a sale confirmation hearing, which will be held in 2nd Circuit Judge Joe Cardoza's courtroom in 30 to 60 days.
Pastor Greg Dela Cruz leads about 15 Living Way Church Maui supporters in a prayer following an auction for the property on which their church sits. The church is making an effort to purchase the foreclosed property.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Court-appointed commissioner Mark Reck conducts an auction Friday for a foreclosed property in Happy Valley that is occupied by Living Way Church Maui.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Matson Kelley, attorney for one member of the Waiehu company, said Friday that North Shore plans to bid 5 percent more than the bank's bid, or $383,250, and basically become the primary creditor and determine the final disposition of the property at the hearing.
While the company is owed a half-million dollars, Kelley said it would be "impossible" for owners to receive everything they are owed, which would require a bid price of upward of $900,000. He said they are looking for "fair market value" but would not be pinned down on a number.
The county has assessed the property and buildings at $769,200, according to property tax records.
"At this point we're looking (more) at minimizing losses than profiting off this mortgage," Kelley said, adding that the limited liability company is in the process of dissolution. "It's better to receive what's fair and letting someone else own the property and ending the (company's) relationship."
The church will be able to make its bid at the sale confirmation hearing in 2nd Circuit Court, however, at a much higher price than originally thought.
It is unclear how much the church will have to bid to takeover ownership of the property, but court-appointed commissioner Mark Reck said that the property has not garnered any interest aside from the church. He said the church will need 10 percent of its final bid on the property in-hand at the confirmation hearing if it is confirmed as the winning bidder.
If the church succeeds, it will have 35 days to make full payment, he said.
"We're not slowing down," said Pastor Greg Dela Cruz, adding that the church has raised more than $50,000.
While the church may be near raising the 10 percent required at the confirmation hearing, Dela Cruz was asked Friday how the church will come up with the balance.
"We're looking into some financing options now, and it looks pretty positive," he replied.
"I'm not worried," he said. "Faith has got us this far and faith is going to see us through."
About 15 supporters gathered at the courthouse Friday afternoon and echoed Dela Cruz.
Lehua Tampon and her husband, John, were among the supporters who have been actively fundraising for the auction. Tampon said that individual families have been soliciting donations via word of mouth and through social media sites like Facebook.
"We've had people give money that I never imagined," she said, adding that they have received donations from people in New Zealand and Australia.
"People that are struggling come up and say, 'We want to support this,' " she said.
Tampon, who lives across the street from the church and has been a member with her husband for the past nine years, said that the support from the community has been "unbelievable."
"We're bringing the 'Happy' back to 'Valley,' '' she said. "Happy Valley is not so happy, but if you get a bunch of joyous people jumping up and down and singing and praising the lord all the time it kind of leaks out to everybody else."
The church plans to hold rummage sales on weekends and donations can be brought directly to the church or mailed to 2005 Mokuhau Road, Wailuku 96793.
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.