Colette M. Jenkins

Ted Lewis managed what he called “the premiere party center in the city” for 17 years.

His management days ended last year, when a buyer made an offer for the building, the St. Joseph Family Center, at 610 W. Exchange St. in Akron, on the grounds of St. Joseph Melkite Catholic Parish. The offer, made by an undisclosed party, required the building to be emptied of all its contents.

With the deal in hand, church officials proceeded to sell off everything, including tables, chairs, linens, china, silverware and backdrops. The building was emptied two days before the June 3, 2013, closing date.

Then, the deal fell through.

“We weren’t even thinking about selling, but we received a very healthy offer. Parish council voted unanimously to accept the offer rather than continue to operate the center on our own,” Lewis said. “We sold everything for nickels on the dollar to empty the building as required by the contract. If the sale had closed, it would have benefitted the church immensely.”

Rather than invest in re-equipping the center, the St. Joseph congregation decided to put the 20,368-square-foot building on the market in October. It is listed with CBRE for $995,000.

The center was built in 1996 for $1.75 million as a banquet hall and gymnasium for the parish. The parish was successful in paying off the mortgage and making the center self-sustaining by renting it for everything from meetings to wedding receptions and expos.

The building, which can be divided into three sections, is still equipped with a walk-in freezer and cooler and sprinkler hood system in the kitchen. Reciprocal parking arrangements can be made with the church.

The Eastern tradition Catholic church, which attracts nearly 100 people to its 10 a.m. Sunday services, was established in 1915. The congregation is planning to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

“Our goal is to see our congregation growing, happy and satisfied,” said the Rev. Eugene Mitchell, pastor at St. Joseph’s. “The family center was a positive contribution to the community and our hope going forward is that something that builds up the community — a school, a health center — will occupy the building.”

Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com.