|Kol Ami vacating building|
|Written by Barbara Bayer, Editor|
|Wednesday, June 20 2012 12:33|
Congregation Kol Ami is giving its building back to Bank of Prairie Village. Kol Ami President Nadine Gordon said the decision was made at a special board meeting held May 6.
Gordon said the congregation has to vacate the premises by the end of June and the last Shabbat worship service will be held June 29. The official papers returning the building to the bank will be signed July 2.
The building was purchased in the summer of 2005 from Zion Lutheran Church for $1.1 million. In April The Chronicle reported that the congregation had put the building up for sale with an asking price of $1.4 million. The 16,000 square-foot building is located at 7501 Belinder Avenue in Prairie Village.
“The bank has been great to work with,” Gordon said. “Other members may not feel that way but I’ve been integrally involved with them and feel that they have bent over backwards to work with us,” Gordon said.
Officials from the Bank of Prairie Village did not answer requests for comment for this story by The Chronicle.
For the immediate future, Gordon said the congregation will hold services in members’ homes, backyards and in parks. Negotiations are taking place with All Souls Unitarian Church, located at 4501 Walnut Street in Kansas City, Mo., to rent space for Friday night services and larger events such as High Holiday services. A board meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, June 19, after The Chronicle goes to press, where further decisions could be made.
This decision was made a few short weeks after the congregation decided to sell the building. Gordon said maintenance costs for the building — for example the boiler was 40 years old — was more than the congregation could afford.
“Those costs have been eating us alive and the majority of the board felt that they couldn’t wait any longer. We also had some congregants who kept saying they no longer wanted to pay their dues if they had to continue to see that. They want to see that their money goes for the rabbi and for programs,” Gordon said.
Even without their building, Gordon said all regular programming at the Reform congregation, which now has 85 member units, will continue.
Rabbi Doug Alpert, who has a contract with Kol Ami through June 2013, reinforced Gordon’s comments that the congregation is still very much in business.
“While there is certainly an understanding that there are a lot of good memories that are carried with the building and this transition is a difficult one, the congregation is very excited about the future. They see real possibilities opening up,” he said.
“We’re looking at locations more in the midtown area, Brookside, the Plaza, and we’re very excited about it,” Rabbi Alpert continued.
Kol Ami also rented space in the building to three tenants — Mercy Church, a Montessori school and a daycare. Those tenants will remain in the building after Kol Ami vacates. Gordon understands that Block & Company, Inc., the real estate broker the congregation hired to sell the building, will be retained by the bank in the same capacity.
The congregation was established in 2003 and met in a variety of locations before purchasing the former church in Prairie Village. It began conducting programs in the building in the late summer of 2005.