The Flatirons Church in Lafayette draws in the largest Sunday morning congregation in the state, and one of the largest in the nation. But, as two former members who reside across the street in the Lafayette Marketplace battle with the massive church, Flatirons could be going to court.
It’s a turf war between the church and Mark and Janet Benassi who own Lafayette Music, located in the corner spot of Lafayette Marketplace, 400 S. Boulder Road. When the church bought the Marketplace, with the exception of Jax Ranch & Home and the Herbal Wellness dispensary, the Benassi’s claimed it took no time for Flatirons to start trying to push them out of the spot.
Mark and Janet Benassi have owned Lafayette Music since 2007. It was not long after that they started attending services at Flatirons Community Church. In February their church became their landlord.
“Our lease runs through 2018, but they claimed that we hadn’t followed the terms of the lease as we were late on the rent,” Mark said. “It’s not true, and they just want our spot to use as an office building.”
They are willing to fight it out in court. The Benassi’s moved their store just over two years ago, and know the financial repercussions that come with every move. Not only is it pricey to rent a truck and move the largest music store in Colorado, but would leave them moving during the busiest season in music sales.
The church has offered to relocate the store to another part of the marketplace, but the Benassi’s feel jaded by the deal. The move would put them in the center, without windows or “sufficient space.”
Flatirons made the couple an offer and was prepared to cover the roughly $100,000 moving cost and an entire year of rent. But the Benassi’s declined and asked for $600,000, which the church labeled as “exorbitant.”
“We understand the fear and apprehension the Benassis have regarding this change and have gone to great lengths to provide good and wise alternatives for their business,” Flatirons’ Executive Pastor Paul Brunner told the Daily Camera. “It is tragic that they’re unwilling to consider reasonable solutions.”
The Benassi’s have set up a gofundme campaign to raise money in case they have to settle the turf war in court, although they are hoping it doesn’t come to that.