Houston church faces $380,000 price tag for parking

| April 25, 2014

 

st thomas the apostle episcopal church

St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church‘s free parking is coming to an end.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church has served Meyerland, a predominantly Jewish community in southwest Houston, since 1953, but today, it finds itself tested by a formerly friendly neighbor asking almost half a million dollars per year for the use of a parking lot.

“I hate to use the word ‘threat’… but it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal for us,” said Rev. David Browder, only the fifth rector in the church’s short history.

Tensions arose when Fidelis Realty Partners purchased Meyerland Plaza Mall, a large outdoor shopping center just north of the church. For years, owners of the mall had allowed churchgoers to use its parking lot for free, but Fidelis has now put a price tag on the lot: $380,000 per year. “It’s a lot higher than we can afford,” said Browder.

Although the surrounding residential neighborhood offers on-street parking, the supply is limited, with the Meyerland lot providing the primary parking for St. Thomas’s parishioners, staff, and students who attend its private school, where tuition runs between roughly $13,000 and $16,000. The school enrolls approximately 600 students and 90 faculty and administrators.

Browder says St. Thomas will have to hire consultants and architects to see how the existing campus layout may be revised to incorporate parking. It’s likely that buildings would have floors added, he said, with growth sought vertically rather than horizontally.

“It might not be exactly what we want to do right now, but it may be where God is leading us to say, ‘Hey, look, you all better start thinking about this, thinking about the future for St. Thomas,'” said Rev. Browder.

He’s trying to negotiate the situation with Fidelis, but a representative of the company would not offer comments.

Although Browder is unsure how the church will come up with the funding or how negotiations will end, he maintains a positive outlook, offering reassurances to the Meyerland community. “I just want to let all the parents and parishioners know that we’re solid,” he said. “We’re staying.”

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Category: Parking management

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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