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Bank in holiday spirit by sending church to foreclosure auction





TD Bank won a foreclosure judgment against the United Pentecostal Church in Sunrise.




Brian Bandell Senior Reporter – South Florida Business Journal

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This Christmas may be the last United Pentecostal Church celebrates in its Sunrise sanctuary after TD Bank 


won a $5.6 million foreclosure judgment.

On Dec. 5, Broward County Circuit Court Judge John B. Bowman signed an order that appears to seal the church’s fate. The nonprofit religious entity, he ruled, went into default on its $4.3 million mortgage with TD Bank (NYSE: TD).

He granted it a bit of a reprieve. The online auction for the church, at 7100 W. Oakland Park Blvd., is scheduled for March 13.

That means those churchgoers will probably have to vacate by Easter, unless someone steps forward with millions of dollars to bring about a resurrection of sorts.

This lawsuit has been in the works since 2009, with the bank represented by attorneys at Miami-based Greenberg Traurig 


.

United Pentecostal Church bought the building for $5.7 million in 2006 from Temple Beth Israel. Tracy Long, the church’s attorney, said it overpaid for the building because of an appraisal that overstated the size of the building. He hoped that TD Bank would write down the mortgage to help the church.

Reached on Thursday, Long said he planned to appeal the judgment against the church and request a trial. He said the bank shouldn’t be able to foreclose on the church because it acted with “unclean hands” when making a loan with poor underwriting.

The church went to mediation with TD Bank, but the bank demanded so much money up front and past-due interest payments to modify the loan that the bank couldn’t afford it, Long said.

“I didn’t think they had a lot of sympathy for the church and the congregation,” Long said of TD Bank. “There is a chance that, if the church loses its building, the congregation splits up to the four winds, but that didn’t seem to bother them at all. To them, it was just cold, hard math.”


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