Bartlesville Conference Center Has Few Options, But There’s Still Hope
Bartlesville City Council voted on Tuesday to shelve plans for the conference center and find other uses for the former First Christian church building so far.
During the meeting, Vice Mayor Jim Curd presented the findings and recommendations of a report by Hunden Partners, which examined the feasibility of converting the former FCC building into a conference center.
A key finding of the study concluded that there is an unmet demand for a small to medium sized conference center in Bartlesville, and that the FCC site would be an ideal location.
The most cost-effective option that would meet the priorities of all interested parties would cost over $17 million and would involve the partial demolition of the old church, while preserving the existing sanctuary.
The new conference center has been estimated to have a shortfall of approximately $200,000 per year, which should be offset by other sources of funding, such as lodging taxes and general revenue.
“The ad hoc committee believes that tax increases for the ad valorem tax and lodging tax would be required to build and operate the facility, and we do not believe this is the best time to proceed with this project,” he said. Curd said. “For this reason, we do not recommend the construction of a conference center at this time.”
As a compromise to prevent the building from sitting unused, the council authorized city staff to send out requests for proposals for the FCC site under the following conditions:
The prospective tenant would agree to a triple net lease that covers utilities, operations, insurance and maintenance of the facility. The city would agree to contribute $2 million to renovate the facility pending the passage of the next general obligation. And the tenant would accept rental conditions corresponding to the reimbursement of the general obligation deposit used to renovate the building.
City council member Billie Roane is happy with the compromise.
“To me, it’s still a holy place; I think it deserves our respect. When they talked about tearing it up, that worries me,” Roane added.