Apartments planned for the former church building in Bartlesville

Developers are moving forward with a plan to restore the former historic First United Methodist Church building downtown, converting it into apartments, a public activity center and a gym.

The Bartlesville Board of Adjustments will vote Thursday on a proposal to rezone the building for residential use, allowing part of the building to be converted to The Gables – 45 apartments ranging from 484 to 1,090 square feet each, said Bob Zilm, a partner on the project.

Zilm, who is “spearheading the development” of the building, said The Gables will have floor plans ranging from studios to two-bedroom, two-bathroom units, with rent ranging from $700 to $1,000. $ per month.

“What we really wanted to do was provide a quality of life downtown. I mean Class A stuff,” Zilm said.

The sanctuary of the former church will be converted into a center for public activities, fitted out to accommodate corporate events, individual parties, artists and film screenings, among others. The developers also hope to rent the basement to a personal trainer, he said.

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021 and be completed in early 2022.

In addition to redeveloping the building to accommodate apartments and activities, the developers will follow strict rehabilitation rules to maintain the building’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places and qualify for federal and state historic preservation tax credits.

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, preservation efforts consist of not significantly altering the building’s exterior or “characteristic interior spaces” and interior repairs to retain historical elements of the building’s architecture.

Developers will benefit from a tax credit of 20% of the cost of rehabilitating the historic elements of the building. The building is also in a Federal Opportunity Zone, which brings another set of tax deferrals and reductions.

Zilm said the building’s history, as well as its downtown location, were attractive to the project.

“It was historic and we wanted to make it enjoyable. Renovate it,” Zilm said.

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