Ridglea Presbyterian Church at Camp Bowie Boulevard and Westridge Avenue in west Fort Worth is under contract to sell its property to Tulsa-based QuikTrip and expects to close the deal in the first quarter.
Company spokesman Mike Thornbrugh confirmed the contract with Ridglea Presbyterian on Wednesday, adding that Fort Worth is one of its growth areas.
“We have a long way to go,” Thornbrugh said. “Our hopes are to [close], but we have a lot of work to do.”
The Rev. Ryan Baer, Ridglea Presbyterian’s pastor and head of staff, confirmed that the church is under contract for the property, but said the contract has a confidentiality clause so he could not name the possible buyer.
Baer said a 150-day due diligence period began Oct. 6 after the 400-member congregation approved the contract. The church has not yet decided where it will relocate.
“That’s where we are,” Baer said. “The buyer plans to completely repurpose this lot into retail use.”
Earlier this month, QuikTrip met with the Ridglea North Neighborhood Association about the project for a convenience store and gas station.
The 1.5-acre lot is already zoned commercial, but it is located in a form-based code district, which means any new construction will have to follow certain design guidelines and standards.
Baer said the church had a contract to sell the property in June 2013, but the deal with a developer fell through.
Ridglea Presbyterian was chartered in 1943 and met in a nearby shopping center until the Luther brothers, who developed most of the Ridglea neighborhood, donated the 1.5-acre tract to the church.
Today, the church has about 40,000 square feet of space, which was built in six phases over the decades, Baer said. But parking remains a problem — it has only 11 parking spaces — and the church faces at least $2 million in maintenance needs, including a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system.
Baer said the church has tried to buy adjacent property for additional parking. Sunday morning parishioners park at nearby businesses, but parking for weekday activities, weddings and funerals causes a problem, he said.
“It’s been that way for a long time,” Baer said. “We’re not doing this out of financial distress or because the church is closing.”
In September, the QuikTrip contract was approved by the congregation, and a month later it was approved by the church’s regional governing body. Under terms, the church will be able to stay free for 18 months after the deal closes, Baer said.
“Presumably, we will be here all of 2017 and 2018 and a little of 2019,” Baer said. “We’ll see what happens.”
QuikTrip, a privately-held company, was founded in 1958 and has more than 740 stores in 11 states, according to its Facebook page.