City Presbyterian in Oklahoma City skips lease, buys vacant Pilgrim Congregational property

The downtown congregation will continue to meet at First Church until grand opening on Easter Sunday, April 20.
by Richard Mize Modified: November 13, 2013 at 9:21 pm •  Published: November 14, 2013
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City Presbyterian Church has its own church house now, and not, as planned, under a lease-to-buy contract.

The downtown church was unexpectedly able to acquire the historic Pilgrim Congregational Church property under a straight purchase contract.

“It's crazy. A donor that we had never met gave us the money to buy it out,” said the Rev. Bobby Griffith, associate pastor.

Griffith said the donor stepped forward soon after City Presbyterian revealed plans to lease, then buy, the Pilgrim property in an arrangement with Ben Sellers' Wayne Property Advisors.

City Presbyterian was able to pay 35 percent down with the rest financed through John Dodson of Legacy Bank, Griffith said. He said the price was $975,000 for the late Gothic Revival-style church house at 1433 Classen Drive and its office wing at 829 NW 13.

The price was almost three times the top bid when the 93-year-old church complex failed to sell at auction in June 2011, but less than half what the owners then said they had invested in it over eight years. Raman & Raman LLP — Dr. Rita P. Raman, a neonatal-perinatal specialist, and Dr. Tirunelveli V. Venkataraman, an internal medicine specialist — said they had $2.2 million wrapped up in the property.

The purchase closed Nov. 1. Griffith said more than 150 people came to an open house at City Presbyterian's future home last Sunday.

“We broke into three groups so we could manage the tour correctly. We all ended up in the sanctuary to talk, pray and sing. What a day!” administrative assistant Keely Steger wrote on the church blog at CityPresOKC.com. “It's a little overwhelming to think about what is still left to do — painting, patching, cleaning, building, preparing, hosting. We need a sound system, chairs, bookshelves, a welcome area, a nursery space.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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