<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Wednesday,  May 29 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Business / Clark County Business

Camas church draws concerns

Purchase of downtown building seen as threat to commercial space

By Kelly Moyer, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: May 2, 2023, 5:17pm
2 Photos
Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files 
 A family passes by Camas Slices in downtown Camas on April 10, 2021. A holding company affiliated with the nearby Journey Community Church recently purchased the former Camas Slices building on the corner of Northeast Cedar Street and Northeast Fourth Avenue in downtown Camas, as well as the adjacent building that once housed a State Farm insurance office. Church leaders say they plan to host community focus groups this spring to help gather ideas about how it might turn the former pizza shop into a youth-centered space.
Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files A family passes by Camas Slices in downtown Camas on April 10, 2021. A holding company affiliated with the nearby Journey Community Church recently purchased the former Camas Slices building on the corner of Northeast Cedar Street and Northeast Fourth Avenue in downtown Camas, as well as the adjacent building that once housed a State Farm insurance office. Church leaders say they plan to host community focus groups this spring to help gather ideas about how it might turn the former pizza shop into a youth-centered space. Photo Gallery

Fans of Camas Slices, downtown Camas’ only pizza joint, were dismayed to learn this month that the 2-year-old eatery would be closing its doors on April 23.

Eric Duensing, who had run a New York City-style pizza shop in Washington, D.C., before moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2014 and ran a wood-fired pizza food truck out of a 1930s Ford flatbed on the Washington Coast, opened Camas Slices in the heart of downtown Camas, at the former Mill City Brew Werks space, in January 2021.

In a Facebook post, the pizza shop owner said the business had “ran into a series of adverse conditions — like a brand-new oven not working for the first year and COVID preventing its repair” but also that the owners “had to make some long-term personal/family choices.”

“So sad to read this,” one Facebook user commented. “As a (New Yorker) who misses a good slice, I loved having your place in town. Best of luck to you. Your amazing space and pizza will be missed.”

Some comments focused less on the departing business and more on the people buying the building. JCC Holdings LLC, a for-profit holding company affiliated with the nearby Journey Community Church, is in the process of purchasing the former Camas Slices building and many online commenters worried the church — through its JCC Holdings company — was taking over a large chunk of the city’s downtown commercial area.

Several people were concerned because JCC Holdings already owns other downtown Camas properties — including the space on Northeast Fourth Avenue that used to house the Cake Happy bakery and the former State Farm insurance agency at 328 N.E. Fourth Ave.

With the purchase of the former Camas Slices building — a sale that was still in escrow as of April 24 — the church and its holding company will own every storefront along the southeast side of Northeast Fourth Avenue between Northeast Birch and Northeast Cedar streets.

“If the church takes over too much space, then there will be nothing else,” one Facebook user commented. “They need to chill with taking over (downtown) Camas.”

Church leaders were disheartened to see online comments that painted Journey Community Church in a somewhat negative light.

“There has been a lot of misinformation online,” said the Rev. Adrian Bucur, Journey Community Church’s lead pastor, citing rumors about the church’s intentions when it comes to the former site of Camas Slices on the corner of Fourth and Cedar.

“We are not intending that space to be for church-only usage,” Bucur said. “We are intending for it to be a public-facing business.”

Church leaders do hope the new space will be focused on youth, but not just Journey Church’s youth, Bucur said.

The Rev. Jeff Miles, Journey Community Church’s executive pastor, said Journey’s leadership is committed to the betterment of the Camas community and its historic downtown.

“The important thing to know is that our heart is for Camas,” Miles said. “All of our pastors live in Camas. Most of our leadership lives in Camas. We want Camas to thrive. In no way do we want to hurt the downtown area. We feel like what we are doing will be a huge asset to downtown Camas by bringing in more people, more life and more energy and enhancing the vibe of downtown Camas. We love Camas. We’re as pro-Camas as you can get.”

Loading...