Ecclesia Church Trumps Treasures Strip Club, as First Ward Congregation Signs Contract To Buy Former Meridian Nightclub

Former Meridian Nightclub, 1503 Chartres St., East Downtown, Houston

A little more than a year after settling into the new location it rehabbed from the former Phillips Paper Company warehouse at 1100 Elder St. in the First Ward, Ecclesia Church appears ready to begin another renovation project and move — this time to East Downtown. The church, which began its life 15 years ago as part of the Taft St. Coffee House complex in Montrose, signed a contract last Friday to purchase the 50,000-sq.-ft. former Meridian nightclub building at 1503 Chartres St. for $3.75 million, pastor and church founder Chris Seay announced during his sermon over the weekend.

The church plans to continue its serial-renovation, just-add-coffee-house growth strategy in the new space. (Taft St. Coffee House’s successor cafe in the First Ward is Paper Co., built into the church’s space there.) The Meridian building, where the nightclub closed in 2010, lies south of the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Toyota Center on the east side of the 59 overpass. The church had originally made several attempts to purchase the building back in 2009, Seay said. But a new chance arose recently, after a bankruptcy sale:


“The people that own the Treasures strip club become the high bidder to buy it out of bankruptcy,” Seay told his congregation Sunday. “But when the day comes that they need to have their funds, they don’t have their funds. And the judge takes it to the second bidder. That bidder brings the money to the table. He now owns the building, and the people at Treasures are planning to buy it from him.

But the church was interested too. “Just so you know, it’s not like we’ve been planning this,” Seay said. “This is literally one of those properties that it comes on the market — that either we buy it or Treasures buys it . . . it’s as clear as that. And we have to move quickly, which is really hard for churches to do. Because we would tend to be — ‘Well, let’s pray about it for a year.’ And there would already be stripper poles all around the place at that point, right? . . . We could take them out, or find some creative way to use them in worship — but I don’t know what that is. But whatever they would do to the building would not be what we would do to the building.”

“We’re not going to buy a place to keep the strip club out,” Seay added, “but it’s not a bad bonus, right? Because it’s a key place in the city.”

Photo: LoopNet

Stripping Buildings in East Downtown

20 Comment

  • Oh man, after some of the shows I’ve seen here this is nearly as good as calling the Summit a place of worship!

  • So they will be getting rid of the “art”?

  • I dare you to name another city that would have a strip club and a church bidding against each other on a building.

  • Only thing I can think of when Churches buy multi-million dollar properties is that we really need to remove tax exempt status for religious based institutions.

  • Too bad about Treasures. There are no close places to downtown where a gentleman can relax.

  • Both a strip club and a church are horrible uses for that site. Hate it.

  • Uhmm does this church realize that 2020 a gay club is right across the street and doesnt close until 4 AM…oh what that pastor will see! LOL…but anywho in my opinion not to say anything bad on churches but the strip club would fit better in that St. Emanuel St. Is like a bar hopping nightlife area

  • I second dag’s comment. How can this “church” afford to purchase a multi-million dollar property?

  • Uh huh. And why don’t they just find an empty church to buy and use?

  • I’m assuming that nothing is going to happen to the Houston Food Truck Park next door though, right?

  • I disagree with DAG. Particularly in this case. They are picking up property in an area that needs all the help it can get.

    Now in the world of churches though there are good ones and not so good ones. I think the bar for tax exemption should be based on % of net income used for public good, and it has to be auditable with federal standards set for claims (ie meals provided have a max claimable value of $5). Places like Ecclesia which take up locations in less desired parts of town have a net positive effect on property values around them. Ultimately the city wins out as do we citizens. Even atheists drink coffee and Taft St had pretty good coffee…

  • Adoile, back when this church was in the Montrose they played host to one of those “pray away the gay” groups, so the proximity to 2020 might be strategic.

  • Blah blah blah with the church haters. There are 100 types of non profit organizations that get tax exempt status. If your favorite non profit to benefit rich old people drinking in ballrooms can get it so should churches. And don’t get me started on Political organizations that provide no benefit to society. If ‘charities’ that spend 85% of revenue on fundraising get it exempt status, so should churches. Charities get ranked on how they use their funds and if you cared about where it went then you would do it for churches too. And since this is America, people can choose where to give their money as they see fit.

  • Good vs Evil? It even plays out in the real estate market.

  • Has anyone heard of the First Amendment? Ah, the good old days: Inquisitions, cujus regio ejus religio, and great times presently being had by all in the Mideast.

  • And 15 more people are talking about Chris Seay! I attended Ecclesia briefly, and my impression was that attention is what that man wants most. A lot of the other folks there are good eggs; him, not so much.

  • I can’t count the number of satanic bands I’ve seen in that place. They may need to get clergy of multiple denominations to cleanse that building!!!

  • A strip club near downtown? Yes, please. To the Treasures owners: don’t let this get you down. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • A mini-mega-church? There goes the old EaDo. What’s next, CVS? Might as well start calling it Pearlandville.

  • I’m not trying to knock the quality of the blog/article but it’s very unclear. Did Ecclesia purchase or not? did they sign a contract ? Or did they lose the bid?