Church to make former Kroger store its home

Pastor hopes church can brighten area of Gettysburg Avenue.

Just a few feet from Mitchell was a small cross that marks the death of a 17-year-old fatally shot by a police officer. The teen was in a stolen vehicle in the store’s parking lot.

The cross tells passers-by that something ominous happened on the property.

Mitchell, 38, hopes the arrival of RCMI, which recently signed a $650,000 land contract with the property’s owners, will brighten the area.

“I’m hoping to bring light to our community,” Mitchell said. “We’re hoping that this place can become a place of refuge, a place where people can come to get help.”

RCMI’s congregation raised the $100,000 down payment for the approximately 56,000-square-foot building owned by Vicken and Zozete Baklayan of West Palm Beach, Fla.

The Baklayans bought the property at 900 N. Gettysburg Ave. for $500,000 in August 2008, eight months after Kroger closed the store because it wasn’t profitable.

Vicken Baklayan, a real estate investor, had planned to put in another grocery store.

“We approached several grocers and we really didn’t get the level of interest,” Baklayan said June 4.

The Baklayans were also approached by a national charter school organization that wanted to place a school on the property, but the deal fell through about six months ago because of a lack of financing.

Vicken Baklayan, however, is pleased with how everything turned out.

“We’re kind of happy that a local person can take the building,” he said.

Mitchell said the congregation is renovating the property and hopes to move in before the end of the year.

The building will allow the 1,800 members to gather for one service on Sunday, as opposed to the three the church offers at its current location, 3011 Oakridge Drive.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2414 or

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