Church hoping to turn an empty space into a nonprofit

Church hoping to turn an empty space into a nonprofit

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There hasn't been anything inside of 1202 Chestnut Street since 2014.

It was once the Chestnut Food Market, but criminal activity caused the City of Wilmington to step in and shut it down.

Two years later, the Anchor Church in Wilmington has a pending contract to buy the building. It was originally bought by the Full Belly Project, but they ran into zoning issues.

It was going to be a mixed-use space, but after the city rezoned it to only residential, it was sold again.

The newest buyers, the Anchor Church, are hoping to plead their case with city council, so it will be rezoned as an urban mixed use space, for their nonprofit, SwitchinGears. They collect bikes, repair them, and give them away to people in need.

"Me and my friends saw some bikes that were going to go in the trash," Dusty Casteen said. "Thought a way to re-purpose them, fix them up and help some neighborhood kids that don't have bikes."

That was a year ago, and it all started in Dusty Casteen's home in Wilmington. Casteen is a member of the Anchor Church, and had no idea how large the project would get.

"We've given away close to 100 bicycles," Pastor Philip Chryst said.

They currently work in a garage behind Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, through donations and community support,

"The guy that owns, Two Wheeler Dealer, his name's Jim, he's helped us so much," Casteen said.

Through discounts, they are able to help communities throughout the Port City.

"Children that are in poverty, people that need transportation to and from work, even refugees that are settling here," Chryst explained about who SwitchinGears is helping.

They are quickly outgrowing the garage, and hope to get a vote in their favor for the building on Chestnut Street.

"The thing with trying to get the building over on Chestnut is to expand our radius of the communities we're helping," Casteen explained.

Pastor Chryst says it's a way to live out their teachings and mission as a church.

"What better way to be incarnational, to embody hope," he said.

The Anchor Church will be going before a zoning committee in the coming weeks, and they are hoping to have the rezoning on the next City Council Agenda. If the vote is yes for an urban mixed use space, they will close on the property in about a month and a half.

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