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With Cloverleaf Closing, Pastor Still Sees Savior

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As Cloverleaf Mall enters its final week of operation, God's still in the mix. The Rev. Steve Parson, senior pastor of the Richmond Christian Center, still hopes his church will be able to purchase a portion of the mall's property to build a new sanctuary.

It's God's will, he says.

"It ain't over till it's over," Parson says. "I don't quite understand everything myself, but I know, without a doubt, that the Lord said to me, 'The mall is yours.'"

The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors agreed to purchase the remaining 46 acres of land at the Cloverleaf site in late January for $7.37 million. The county has already spent $9.2 million to purchase the mall buildings and about 37 acres in eastern Midlothian, at Route 60 and Chippenham Parkway. After the latest deal closes May 25, the county will have spent more than $16 million.

But it's not over yet. There are more expensive issues looming -- including environmental remediation, demolition costs, along with new roads, water and sewer — that the county is negotiating with the project's developer, Crosland LLC.

"We're at second base," says Tom Jacobson, the county's director of community revitalization and point man on the project. He declines to discuss how much the deal could wind up costing taxpayers. "I don't have an estimate," he says.

The primary issue, Jacobson says, is how much county money is needed to "make up the difference of the value of the land for redevelopment" and the cost of buying the property and getting it ready for development.

Neither the county nor the developer is entertaining Parson's request to purchase a piece of the site for a new church. In the latest round of bidding, Parson says his congregation upped its offer to $10 million for the remaining 46 acres.

Jacobson says there is no specific timetable, but the county is moving quickly to accommodate the developer and Kroger Co., which is building a grocery store on the site. Crosland is planning a mixed-use development, with residential, retail and offices.

Parson, who first attempted to purchase the property in 2004, says he's happy to wait. "We've been this close before and we'll just see what happens," he says. "All we're doing is waiting in the wings."





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