January: MorningStar Ministries began a year long sabbatical, which included cutting down on the amount of conferences. This is done every seven years to enable the staff to seek the Lord’s direction for the next seven years of the ministry.
On the 17th, the Fort Mill Times reported:
Town passes on 600-acre development By Jonathan Allen (An excerpt from that story)
FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — Fort Mill will not annex Emerald Lakes, a 600 plus-acre development on the former Heritage USA property.
One reason is the developer, Coulston Enterprise Management, declined to pay for a study the town requested to see if benefits of annexing the property would outweigh the cost of providing services.
Town Manager David Hudspeth said after discussing some of Fort Mill’s concerns with Mike Scott, a representative of Coulston Enterprise Management, they mutually agreed it was not in either party’s interest to pursue annexation.
“I’m afraid it would stretch our resources too thin,” Hudspeth said….
February: On the 12th, MorningStar Ministries sent out postcards to area residents with a picture of an artist’s rendition of the way the Towers will look when it is completed. On the back of the postcard, Rick Joyner invited all those living on the grounds to a February 17th Open House. MorningStar’s intent was to address the residents questions and concerns regarding recent press releases and their plans for the completion of the Towers. The 1:00-3:00 PM meeting included refreshments and a tour to observe the ongoing restoration of the facility.
On the 14th, the front page of the Fort Mill Times read as follows: Regent Park golf course sold by Jonathan Allen
FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — The award-winning Regent Park Golf Course has a new owner. Regent Park Corp. sold 200-plus-acre course to Southern Gailes Friday, the Fort Mill Times learned.
Chris McLaren, on behalf of Southern Gails, a company with an address of 5055 Regent Parkway, has filed for a permit to serve alcohol and intends to continue operating the property as an 18-hole golf course.
“I hope we can sit down with (the new owners) and welcome them to the neighborhood and make the transition as easy as possible,” Regent Park Homeowners Association President Mike Sexton said.
Neither Regent Park Corp. nor an attorney representing the group, Michael Workman of Charlotte, could be reached for comment before press time.
It is unclear at this point if the sale of the course affects a tax lien placed on Regent Park Corp. last August by the IRS. That lien was filed against all property the company owned, including the golf course. Some residents said they were worried then that the IRS would force the sale of the course at auction and it could end up in the hands of someone who would build more houses over the course.
But many Regent Park residents are relieved at the news of the sale because they have heard the new owner wants to keep the course running as is, Sexton said during a break at a HOA meeting Monday night.
The course played host to an LPGA pro-am tournament in 2002, and was close to a five-year deal to host a pro-am each year before a faltering economy in 2003 quashed the deal. The course, designed by Ron Gari, claims to be the most challenging public 18-hole course in the Charlotte region, according to its Web site at www.regentparkgolfclub.com.
It has won several golfing magazine awards, including being named one of the “Places to Play” by “Golf Digest” in 1998, 2004, and 2005. It was named a reader’s choice winner by “Metrolina Golf” and “Charlotte’s Best” magazines.
On the 17th, MorningStar had its Open House meeting.
The Herald reported: MorningStar announces $50 million plan to renovate former PTL tower By Taylor Bright (a large portion of the article)
MorningStar Ministries says it will spend $50 million to renovate the old PTL tower in Fort Mill to ready it for apartments and shops.
Rick Joyner, founder of MorningStar, made the announcement Saturday in a meeting with area residents, many of whom had lobbied for the demolition of the tower in recent months.
“We really had planned to do this all along,” Joyner said.
The 21-story unfinished tower was to be the centerpiece of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise The Lord empire, the multimillion-dollar evangelical group the Bakkers ran in the 1980s.
Instead, it became the center piece of Jim Bakker’s federal fraud trial in 1989.
Prosecutors said Bakker knowingly oversold time shares in the tower, which he had promised people they could use for the rest of their lives. Bakker was convicted on 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy and sent to prison.
The tower’s construction came to a halt during the trial and has stood untouched ever since.
Now, the railings are rusted, the bottom floors are boarded up and bricks on the side of are flying off in patches.
MorningStar bought the 52-acre property in 2005, and Joyner says he sees value in renovating the tower despite its condition.
“It’s roughly a $50 million investment, but we could still make $100 million,” Joyner said, but he added, “We’re a ministry, not a business.”
During his presentation in the old lobby of the Heritage Grand Hotel, standing on a stage before the renovated Main Street, Joyner showed an artist’s rendering of what the tower may look like and assured the crowd the building is structurally sound.
Joyner said MorningStar would add 80,000 square feet to the building and house 500-700 people.
“This place still has a stigma,” Joyner said. “We want to make that change. We want to make it into a positive.”
That seemed to be what the residents wanted to hear. In the past two months, neighbors have stepped up their complaints about the tower, which dwarfs every building around it. Residents say it’s an eyesore, and one took a petition of 100 signatures to a York County Council meeting in January, pleading with councilmen to demolish the building.
Before anything can happen, MorningStar will have to go through a rezoning process with the county. In January, the county had threatened to fine MorningStar if it didn’t amend a rezoning application for the building. But Joyner doesn’t expect any further problems with the county.
The residents in attendance seemed pleased by Joyner’s presentation.
Gary Schatz, a seven-year resident and vice president of the Regent Park homeowners association, called it a “good concept”….
At the “Open House” meeting in the Grand Hotel, it was brought up that the Barn Auditorium and the TV Studio owned by Sabrina Coulston, founder of Flames of Fire Ministry, were for-sale. Rick Joyner said that MorningStar Ministries would welcome anyone who purchased it. Soon after that information became public, the signs in front of the Barn Auditorium that read “Flames of Fire Ministry” were removed. The unfinished Barn Auditorium and the adjacent TV Studio stood empty waiting for the next buyer.
March: On the 5th, the York County Council met to decide on MorningStar’s application for rezoning.
The Herald’s headline read: “90 days” By Rebecca Sullock (a large portion of the article)
The owners of the former Heritage USA tower will get 90 more days to show the county just how they plan to renovate the 21-story building, after the York County Council voted to defer MorningStar Ministries’ rezoning application Monday night.
MorningStar will have to show details about how many people would live in the building, how MorningStar would pay for the renovations, which roads people would use to get to the tower and a timetable for the entire project.
The council then will vote again about whether to allow the project to continue. MorningStar has missed several deadlines for submitting such plans.
“We can’t take lightly tearing down an $11 million building,” said York County Councilman Rick Lee. “But if it doesn’t come together within 90 days, let the wrecking balls fly.”
Rick Joyner, MorningStar’s founder and director, said he plans to use the building as a retirement, or “Refirement,” center for people 50 and older, he said at Monday’s meeting.
The building originally was designed to have 500 units, he said. A center piece of Jim Bakker’s fallen PTL empire, it was never finished and has set empty for nearly 20 years. MorningStar, in conjunction with a private provider, would tear out walls and create about half that many units for retirees, Joyner said.
“They will not bring drug problems, they will not bring crime problems,” Joyner said of the tower’s planned residents. “Most of them are very well off.”
After permits were issued, the building would be completed within 30 months, he estimated.
Joyner said previous missed deadlines were caused by miscommunication and failed attempts to get the Town of Fort Mill to annex the property…./span>
On the 6th, Tammy Faye wrote a message on her web site, an excerpt:
Please forgive my delay in writing. I have been really ill the past few months, in fact, most of the time has been spent in bed, too ill to eat or even go up and down the stairs….
Thank you for your continued prayers, but please may I ask you to include someone else in your prayers when you pray for me. I believe without a shadow of a doubt, that God is healing me, and now he wants us to add more people to our prayer list!
God is good and we thank him every day for his blessings. Love, Tammy Faye”
On the 19th, The Herald featured a week long segment on the 20th anniversary of the fall of PTL. Pictures, comments from former employees and partners, as well as the current status of some of the players involved were reported all week.
April: The Herald reported that Earl Coulston sold Farmland for $3.5 million dollars to the Fort Mill School District to build one or possibly two new schools.
May: On the 8th, Tammy Faye posted another letter on her web site. Here are a few excerpts:
My Dear Faithful Friends,
Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, 4th of July and several birthdays of family and friends. Envelopes have become separated, or they are still in piles all over the place to send yet. I have been on so much medication, so many have been trying to help with thank-you notes…I don’t know…
The doctors have stopped trying to treat the cancer and so now it’s up to God and my faith. And that’s enough! But please continue to pray for the pain and sick stomach….
I am down to 65 pounds, and look like a scarecrow. I need God’s miracle to swallow….”
June: On the 4th, Rick Joyner asked the York County Council for another extension on his plans to restore the Towers.
July: MorningStar completely closed for the month to give the ministry a total rest.
On the 4th, Jim Bakker did his first TV show from the new retreat center, Morningside. Still under construction, over 300 people attended a 4th of July celebration.
On the 19th, Tammy Faye appeared on Larry King Live. Looking indescribably ravaged by the cancer in her body, she talked about her unwavering faith and trust in God. She and her husband, Roe Messner, stunned the world by showing the effects of the end stages of cancer.
On the 21st, a saddened Larry King broke the news on CNN that Tammy Faye had passed away on Friday, and had been cremated and interred. Over one million people responded to her death causing her web site to crash.
August: Our local paper, The Herald, reported that the York County Council gave MorningStar Ministries initial approval to add three wings to the Towers that would further stabilize the building.
On the 20th, The Upper Room was closed due to a mold problem. It was rumored that it would be taken down if the problem could not be corrected. Pastor Ron Lambright moved his congregation to another location on the grounds.
September: From the 27th – 29th, MorningStar held its annual Harvest Conference.
On the 28th, in the presence of hundreds of conference goers, invited guests, and local media, Rick Joyner officially dedicated the completed Grand Hotel and Conference Center at an official ribbon cutting ceremony. Rick Joyner commented, “These are just buildings, the people are what brought it to life.”
October: MorningStar had its Worship and Warfare Conference from the 1st to the 3rd.
On the 6th, A Memorial Service was held for Tammy Faye in Decatur, Georgia at Pastor Donny Earl Paulk’s church, Cathedral at Chapel Hill. Heartbroken, Tammy Sue and Jamie spoke briefly at the service.
November: On the 2nd, The bridge linking Heritage USA to Pineville, North Carolina was opened.
On the 7th, the Fort Mill Times reported that MorningStar Ministries can now move forward with plans to convert the towers into an active adult community. The key players were reported to have reached a settlement to privately fund bringing Regent Parkway from Highway 21 to the railroad tracks up to county standard. Within a few days the entire length of Regent Parkway was resurfaced.
On the 9th, Rick Joyner appeared on The Jim Bakker Show to announce the approval of the plans for the Towers and to invite Jim to speak at the New Years Conference from December 29th thru the 31st. Jim agreed to come and tentatively planned to tape some shows from the grounds of Heritage USA. This would be his first broadcast from the grounds in 21 years.
During the month, Earl Coulston put the 14+ acres in front of the Heritage Grand Hotel, where the Water Park had once stood, up for sale. This was the property that Coulston Enterprises designated for restaurants and shops.
December: On the 14th, Jim Bakker did his last taping from the Studio City Café in Branson, Missouri. The whole ministry was moving to Morningside. The first show from Morningside would be announced at a later date.
During the month Rick Joyner announced that they would be modifying the Towers, and construction would begin in the spring.
On the 29th, MorningStar hosted its annual New Years Conference. Jim Bakker, one of the main speakers, received an overwhelming reception from a packed out crowd of MorningStar members and PTL Partners, who were invited by Rick Joyner.
Jim Bakker spoke to an eager crowd about the upcoming events the Lord had showed him for 2008. The word the Lord gave Jim for 2008 was “Double.” He warned people that there will be double the trouble in the world as the return of the Lord draws near. He again spoke about the 31 things the Lord showed him in 1999, and how they were still coming to pass. He said that this was the best time for the church who had their trust in Jesus, and the worst time for churches that had their trust in money and things. He warned that mega churches would fail because they were teaching people to fall in love with money rather than God. He also stated to a stunned crowd, that the Stock Market would crash.
Rick Joyner spoke prophetically about how the Lord had given him a vision of the church as being a person covered with cancer. Among many other things, this cancer was caused by self-indulgence, arrogance, and faulty conversions of people because they didn’t die to themselves at the cross. He went on to say that he saw the Lord doing a surgery on this cancer. He said that the church will not die, rather it would live and be free from this cancer. The results of the surgery, that the church gladly accepted, would leave the Body of Christ smaller, but stronger and more able to resist the “mark of the beast” when the tribulation times come upon the world.
At the end of 2007:
- The Heritage Grand Hotel was completely restored;
- The PTL Registration Office was remodeled by The Cause.
- The Amphitheatre remained dismantled;
- The unresolved mold problem kept the Upper Room’s fate in the balance;
- The Barn Auditorium (the church) remained unfinished on the inside, and for sale;
- The TV Studio remained for sale;
- The Herald reported that the homeowners of the Regent Park section of the property and Regent Park Corporation (the Malaysians) entered into an agreement to convey Regent Park’s common areas to the homeowners;
- The construction for the restoration of the Towers was scheduled for the summer of 2008.