published Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Nonprofit buys site of Circuit City

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A Chattanooga-based nonprofit that conducts religious training has bought the former Circuit City building off Lee Highway.

The International Congress of Churches and Ministers, an organization that provides financial advice to churches and other ministries, paid $1.35 million for the 36,500-square-foot building and three-acre parcel, said David DeVaney, president of NAI Charter Real Estate Corp.

"It will bring people in for seminars, continuing education and produce DVDs," DeVaney said about the facility that takes up nearly half of the former shopping center near Highway 153.

Chattanooga attorney Wayne Peters said the International Congress is run by Michael Chitwood, who also operates an accounting and financial services firm in the city, Chitwood & Chitwood, which caters to churches and ministries.

"It will be devoted to religious activities," said Peters about the Lee Highway site. He said the accounting firm is to remain at its Eastgate location, where the International Congress also is currently housed.

The ministry's website said Chitwood conducts more than 200 conferences a year with more than 17,000 people attending as he teaches financial accountability and compliance.

The Congress was established "to provide 501(c)3 tax-exempt charters to churches and ministries within the highest standards of accountability and responsibility," the website said. Chitwood wasn't immediately available for comment.

DeVaney said the seller is DZD LLC in Atlanta. He said another Atlanta firm owns a large portion of the onetime shopping center including what was an America's Thrift Stores until it moved to Hixson.

"It's going to be a neat use of the property," DeVaney said about the new buyer's plan.

It's the second planned reuse of the site in the last seven months.

Last December, a Chattanooga developer proposed a Dave & Buster's-type restaurant and entertainment complex. It won City Council approval over concerns by some neighbors about its serving alcohol. However, DeVaney said the project never came to fruition.

Much of the former shopping center is empty, with Cornerstone Bank having an operations center there.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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