June Hunt at her new buliding for religious groups in Collin County. photography by Cord McPhail

Faith Gets a Collin County Address

A new office building — the Hope Center — offers cheap rents and upscale amenities for religious groups.

Among the rows of impressive office buildings along Plano Parkway in Collin County stands a new three-story edifice that boasts 185,000 square feet on nine acres, punctuated by four massive stone pillars that frame the entrance like a stately Texas hunting lodge.

Inside, the amenities more than rival the building’s nearby corporate cousins. There’s a big cafeteria for the tenants; a workout center with showers; covered, secure parking; ’round-the-clock security; and large meeting spaces.

Instead of housing the fastest-growing North Texas corporate whiz kid, though, this classic, brick-encased building­—known as the Hope Center—is an oversized Christian community. It’s the brainchild of Hope for the Heart founder June Hunt, who wanted to give North Texas Christian ministries a place to grow together and take advantage of economies of scale in tough times.

“This is truly a dream come true,” says the daughter of famed Dallas billionaire H.L. Hunt. The building opened late last year; Hunt hosted the first public viewing and tours in September.

“Because of the nation’s challenging economy, it was the perfect time for 41 Hope Center ministries to band together,” she says. “The pro-rata amenities such as a shared telephone and computer systems, conference rooms, and a fulfillment center enable tenants to do more ministries with less money.”

And indeed they have. Some of the best-known organizations in Dallas’ faith-based world have come together at the center, including I Am Second, East-West Ministries, Probe Ministries, Liberty Institute, Josh McDowell Ministry, e3Partners Ministry, and Marketplace Chaplains USA.
Brent Ray, president of Hunt’s Hope for the Heart, a worldwide Christian ministry, says the waiting list for others to join Hope Center is five years long. All tenants sign a statement of “shared values.”

Because Hunt paid for much of the project up front—the price hasn’t been disclosed, but is said to be in the eight figures­—the Hope Center Foundation is able to offer lower rental rates than the area’s norm.

Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the Liberty Institute, a national legal society that defends constitutional rights and religious freedoms, says the institute is paying $10 per square foot—a number confirmed by other tenants—compared to an estimated average of $30 per foot in the area.

“Most people here can’t believe we’re in a nicer building with much more space, paying equal or less than we have before,” Shackelford says.

Adds Kerby Anderson, national director of Probe Ministries: “I think the synergy June has built here with this facility is just amazing. I used to have to go down the street or across the street to meet with these people; now I just go upstairs.”

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