The City of Bartlesville begins lease negotiations for the former First Christian Church building as it continues to evaluate whether to convert the building into a conference center.
With closure plans on the horizon, the FCC congregation approached the city in 2021 to donate its building. In a Dec. 22 letter of intent, the city agreed to notify FCC of its plans for the building, or if more time was needed, by the end of May.
Bartlesville City Council voted May 23 to allow city staff to negotiate a lease to give the city more time to consider its uses of the building. The monthly lease will begin July 1, with the City paying for the building’s insurance, operating costs, maintenance and utilities.
Related: Proposed Budget for the City of Bartlesville: Here are the key takeaways
Bartlesville City Manager Mike Bailey said a feasibility study for the conference center under contract with Hunden Strategic Partners is expected to be completed by mid-June. The company showed him a first draft and he expects city staff will need time to go through the report.
“The initial report was interesting, (but) it was very, very dense,” Bailey said during the Council meeting.
At the same meeting, the Board discussed allocating $100,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funding to operate and maintain the building. No action has been taken on funding, but the Board will consider, and possibly vote on, at the June 6 meeting.
While the conference center feasibility study report will identify the advantages and limitations of using the FCC building as a conference center, it will also provide an overall assessment of the market and other buildings that can be used for this purpose.
Related: ‘It’s a real mix of emotions’: Bartlesville First Christian Church prepares for final service
The 125-year-old church held its last service on April 24 after two years of discussions about how to handle declining membership.