State Board approves plan for sale of Auburn’s BCM center, new facility

By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist

An offer by the City of Auburn to purchase the Auburn University Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) center would mean a new facility for the ministry and an influx of funds to renovate the nine other BCM centers in the state.

Trustees of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) approved the proposal to sell the property in its meeting Aug. 11 at Shocco Springs. The proposal will be brought before messengers to the state convention annual meeting in November for final approval. The Auburn city council also must approve the proposal and is expected to vote Aug. 15.

The 56-year-old Auburn University BCM, also known as the Baptist Student Center, is located on College Street, just down the street from Auburn’s famed Toomer’s Corner. Looking for ways to increase parking downtown, city officials approached SBOM officials more than a year ago about purchasing the land, according to Bobby DuBois, SBOM associate executive director. Representatives from both the properties and executive committees of SBOM approved the proposal in May.

According to the agreement, SBOM will sell the property of the current BCM building to the city for $2.33 million. The building will be demolished to make way for a new 200- to 300-space public parking deck.

A new 6,900-square-foot BCM space will be built on the first level of the parking garage, leaving the ministry’s location in downtown Auburn virtually unchanged. And while the new entrance will be on the opposite side of the block off Wright Street instead of College Street, the area is still a hub of activity in the downtown region with more plans for retail space in the area in the future.

The new space is about 1,500 square feet less than the current building, but it will be able to seat 150 or even an overflow of 175 instead of the current building’s 100.

“The new space more than adequately meets [the] ministry needs … at Auburn right now,” DuBois said.

SBOM will determine the layout of the space. Upon completion the city will deed the space to SBOM, along with 15 parking spaces, and pay SBOM the difference in the appraised value of the property and the cost of construction — an estimated $1.23 million. That money will be combined with $1 million from SBOM’s future construction funds to renovate the other nine facilities in the state by 2019.

If approved by messengers in November, the sale would close in late November or early December. Demolition and construction would begin soon after with plans for completion in 2019. The city of Auburn has agreed to provide temporary housing for the BCM ministry during the time of construction but the location has yet to be determined.

Mike Nuss, who directs SBOM’s BCM ministry, said, “We are excited about the new facility at Auburn and how the subsequent improvements to our BCM facilities across the state will position us for strategic ministry on the college campus missions field for the future.”