New Covenant United Methodist Church purchases Delano buildings

WICHITA — New Covenant United Methodist Church is going to expand in Delano, but not until Al’s Old & New Book Store owner Anita Siemer finds new space for her store.

1710, foreground and 1712 and 1718 W. Douglas. (April 30, 2014)“The move is going to hinge on Anita at the bookstore,” says Cathy Holley, who is pastor of the decade-old church. “We’re going to wait it out until she finds the right place to be.”

The church has purchased the 5,000-square-foot building that’s home to Al’s and at 1710 and 1712 W. Douglas. It also bought the 3,000-square-foot storefront where it currently meets at 1718 W. Douglas.

“We’re doing this because we do want to stay connected in the Delano community,” Holley says. “The community is very important to us.”

Holley says the church needs a larger worship space and the ability to serve more members.

“Right now we just don’t have room to grow,” she says. “The configuration of the building we’re in now doesn’t allow us to do any renovations.”

The church plans to tear down the wall currently dividing the bookstore and sign company spaces. It also wants to find a tenant for its current space.

“Financially right now, it just benefits us to lease that out,” Holley says.

1718 W. Douglas. (April 30, 2014)Sooner or later, she says, the church will use it for additional ministry space.

The building purchases were made possible by a large donation from a late parishioner, Holley says.

She says for the church to own its own space is a big step.

“We had to think about it. It was a hard decision to make.”

One consideration was staying near Options Adult Services, a drug and alcohol treatment program in Delano that the church partners with.

“We definitely wanted to stay connected with our ministry with them,” Holley says.

She says the church’s life support ministry in the community is important as well.

“We want to provide programs (and) opportunities to the people in the community to enhance their quality of life.”

Holley says that can be enhanced if the church can attract more members with its larger space.

When the church can move into its new space, Holley says the sanctuary will be 60 percent of the building. She says it’s perhaps nontraditional to have it in a storefront, but it works for New Covenant.

“We have more of a contemporary style with a band,” Holley says. “We just kind of look at things a little more nontraditionally.”

So far, Siemer hasn’t had luck finding new space for her bookstore, which has been in that location for four decades and in Delano for almost 60 years.

“My search is still just, ah, in progress,” she says.

“I can find cheap, crummy spaces in … parts of town that would be scary for after dark, and I can find expensive, nice places here in Delano and downtown, but you know, having to pay so much – like three times as much as I currently pay – I don’t think that’s really looking like it works for me right now.”

Siemer says she does have a possible subleasing situation.

“I’m slightly nervous about that.”

Holley says the church’s current space that it’s hoping to find a tenant for probably isn’t an option.

“The logistics are little weird,” she says of the inability to simultaneously move the two without remodeling first.

Holley says Siemer is a friend.

“We’re not going to rush her out of there,” she says. “We’re trying to be really sensitive about that.”

Siemer says her customers are being supportive.

“They’re all encouraging me not to give up because once in a while I threaten to close it,” she says.

That’s an option “if it comes to that.”

“If you can’t compete in a market that says the rent is this much, maybe you can’t compete,” Siemer says.

Not that she wants to close.

“I don’t want to,” she says. “Fifty thousand books later, I’m still in love with it.”