Saturday, June 14, 2008

Livemercial buys Natural Ovens Building

Local company buys Natural Ovens

VALPARAISO -- A Valparaiso technology company official said it purchased the former Natural Ovens Bakery, which is occupied by a church.

Livemercial CEO Johnny Mathis Jr. said Friday his company plans to transform the dome near Indiana 2 and Indiana 49 into an incubator for new technology companies acquired by Livemercial.

Mathis declined to comment about how much Livemercial paid for the building.

"It's a very unusual building, but we're a very unusual company," Mathis said.

Doug Johnson, senior vice president of Sheldon Good and Co. real estate firm, said the company sold the building in a sealed-bid auction. The auction ended June 3, and the property purchase is scheduled to close within 45 days, Johnson said.

WayPoint Church has been been renting the dome for nearly a year, Interim Pastor Dave Vander Woude said. A team from the church began looking for another location after it heard about the auction.

"We're a little bit scared," Vander Woude said. "We were just figuring we were going to be at this place for a little while."

The church had moved to the dome from its former location of five years at the Valparaiso Boys & Girls Club where it was known as the Daybreak Community Church.

"We were looking for a spot that would be pretty visible and pretty accessible in general for the community," Vander Woude said. "Also, a spot where maybe we could do different things as time went on."

The church intended to add a Red Cross station and a homeless shelter, he said.

Since moving to the dome, the church underwent changes, both structurally and with the congregation. About the same time, it changed pastors and it transformed from a denominational to a nondenominational church, Vander Woude said.

The church's membership dropped, but it has grown since and now has 75 members, which is about what it once was, he said.

The church also has made renovations such as converting former offices into classrooms and sectioning off parts of the building with stage curtains, but a large portion of the back half of the building was not being used, Vander Woude said.

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