Unity Church in San Luis Obispo for sale

acornejo@thetribunenews.comMay 4, 2013 

Unity Church's 13,000-square-foot building on Southwood Drive in San Luis Obispo is for sale for $2.5 million.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Citing financial pressures, Unity — a church off Johnson Avenue in San Luis Obispo — is selling its building after decades of being in the same location.

Minister Leona Evans said the 13,000-square-foot building on Southwood Drive has become a financial burden that the trans-denominational church can no longer afford.

The economic downturn and a small congregation of fewer than 100 people led to the church’s financial struggle and the decision to sell the property, she said.

The building, on a 69,696-square-foot lot, is listed by San Luis Realty for $2.5 million. The site includes a sanctuary/theater with stage to accommodate up to 250 people, a commercial kitchen, playground, bookstore, classrooms and administrative offices.

“It’s much more than a congregation of our size needs,” Evans said.

Instead, the church will seek a smaller building somewhere in San Luis Obispo.

Over the years, Unity has become a hub for nonprofits as Evans sought to balance the cost of the facility by renting out space. The church relies on fundraisers, rental income and donations to operate.

“For all of these efforts, we are still short of funds and have little or no space in our building to hold our own Unity activities,” Evans wrote in a letter to the congregation in mid-April. “In fact, so much energy has been focused on our fiscal needs we have lost sight of the spiritual vision for our ministry.”

Michelle Gideon, who has attended Unity for more than 10 years, said having a smaller location will be a relief.

She said it will allow the church to focus more on spiritual enrichment classes and other activities instead of trying to stay afloat financially.

The only group that will move with the church will be the Montessori school.

Most notably displaced will be Kelrik Productions, a community theater group that has been based at Unity for seven years.

Artistic director Erik Austin said he was still processing the recent announcement that his theater would have to find a new home.

The looming sale of the building should not interfere with the theater’s latest show, “The Little Mermaid,” which opened Saturday and ends May 26, he said.

“I’m not sure what we are going to do,” Austin said. “We are actively looking for another location in San Luis Obispo.”

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