Baptist Building sale stalled
California move goes forward with architect
JEFFERSON CITY—While the anticipated sale of the Baptist Building has stalled, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) headquarters is still headed for California, Mo., as the final paperwork on the transfer of six donated acres from a developer to the MBC nears completion as of mid-February.
The Gardner Group, a Springfield-based company that had expressed an interest in the Baptist Building and was willing to spend up to $1.7 million to buy it, exercised an option to get out of the contract, according to David Tolliver, MBC interim executive director.
In a Feb. 7 email to MBC Executive Board members, Tolliver wrote that The Gardner Group determined that it would be too costly to restore the building to its original character as they had intended.
“Obviously, this is a setback in our plans—but just a temporary setback,” Tolliver wrote. “It could very well work out for the best, giving us more time to make plans for fundraising, building and moving from the present location. Personally, I would rather move at a slow but steady pace than to move too fast.”
As of Feb. 12, Tolliver said he has received no negative response from board members concerning the Baptist Building not being sold. And on Feb. 13, it was announced that an architect for the new building, Esterly, Schneider & Associates, Inc., of Springfield, had been hired.
The Executive Board voted 24-16-1 in December to build a new headquarters in the Moniteau County city of California, which is located 22 miles west of Jefferson City. Kenny Vaughan of Vaughan Construction Company of California made the deal possible by donating six acres on Highway 50 about one mile east of the city. Vaughan is a member of First Baptist Church, California.
Tolliver said that fundraising for the new building in California has never been tied to the sale of the Baptist Building and that only the board has the authority to determine how much money will be needed to move. In December he suggested that it would require a fundraising drive of approximately $3 million; in a Feb. 12 interview, he said he would recommend that the MBC raise a “significant” amount of the cost to relocate before it launches into any construction. He added that a fundraising plan needs to be in place and receiving dollars before a new building can be built, and that more time is needed to prepare a good strategy.
“This setback has not minimized my resolve to honor your vote and make the move to California eventually,” Tolliver wrote to board members.
He ended the email by writing, “Our new home will be a great home. I don’t mind waiting on God’s timing to make the move.”
The six acres where the MBC’s new headquarters will be constructed is part of a 238-acre commercial and residential development planned by Vaughan. Some 40 residential lots are being developed. The proposed donated property has 590 feet of highway frontage on the south side of Highway 50 and 425 feet running south parallel to Windmill Ridge Drive. City water, electric, natural gas and sewer are in place.
Tolliver plans to have a “Future Home of the Missouri Baptist Convention” sign placed on the property once the title work is complete and the documents are signed.
Meanwhile, the Baptist Building is in the process of being listed for sale by a Jefferson City developer, Tolliver said.
“In one sense, I am excited to see what God will do in this matter,” Tolliver wrote to board members. “We have never really marketed this building. Now we have a chance to see what the market will bring as well as what God will do in this circumstance.”
Formerly known as the Missouri Hotel, the Baptist Building was acquired by the MBC in 1969 and remodeled for denominational use.