— Baptist Temple Church in the Heights finalized a sale of property on Friday, May 10 that will facilitate a $3 million renovation to its premises at 230 West 20th Street.
Renovations will impact nearly all of the 65,000 square feet of worship, classroom, and office space in the T.C. Jester building. Plans call for a new 300-seat sanctuary, a new entrance and foyer, new learning and play areas for infants and children, and numerous modifications that will bring the entire building up to Americans With Disabilities (ADA) standards and other city codes.
The sale to Braun Enterprises includes two buildings: the original church sanctuary built in 1912, and a larger 1,300-seat sanctuary built in the late 1940s. Both buildings, located on the northwest corner of Rutland and 20th Streets, will be demolished to make room for retail space planned by Braun, the same father-and-son firm that purchased Harold’s in the Heights clothing store last year and has owned the Yale Pharmacy since 2007.
“We look for opportunities in areas that are good or getting better,” said Dan Braun, president. “The area around 19th and 20th Streets has not changed much in the last 20 years, but we love the demographics and the neighborhood. The strong interest in our Harold’s space indicates that the church property could draw the same attention.”
Braun said the firm was predisposed toward building new retail and restaurant space on the site in keeping with the character of 19th Street. He said the firm recently passed on a national restaurant chain that expressed interest in the Harold’s space in favor of a lease to Torchy’s Tacos, a quirky Austin-based eatery that plans to build an outdoor patio and a small organic grocery store there.
For Baptist Temple, the property sale completes the final leg of a long journey that began with a 2005 retreat, where members took a hard look at their purpose in the community and whether or not the church could or should survive.
“We basically took stock of what we had, where we wanted to be, and made some tough decisions,” said Pastor Kelly Burkhart, who was called to the historic church in 2004 and expects to earn his Doctor of Ministry degree from the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University this year.