Former mayor ushers in reboot of historic Phoenix church as events, dining space

Apr 8, 2024, 4:05 AM

First Baptist Church has sat vacant since a major fire in the 1980s while former Phoenix mayor and ...

First Baptist Church has sat vacant since a major fire in the 1980s while former Phoenix mayor and attorney Terry Goddard, pictured, has been spearheading efforts through the Housing Opportunity Center to rehabilitate and redevelop the former church into a mixed-use space. (Jim Poulin/Phoenix Business Journal)

(Jim Poulin/Phoenix Business Journal)

A royal poinciana tree has been sprouting at the western edge of the historic First Baptist Church in downtown Phoenix for the past decade.

For former Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard, the tree, considered one of the most beautiful in the world with its bright red blooms, marked the beginning of his plans to restore the 45,000-square-foot church after the roof burned down and the building sat vacant for decades.

“It’s a work in progress, very much so,” Goddard told the Business Journal, referring to the abandoned church. “I’ve got my tree — 10 years ago I planted the royal poinciana in expectation that someday we’d get this fixed.”

Goddard, also a former Arizona attorney general, has spearheaded efforts by nonprofit Housing Opportunity Center to turn the Italian Gothic-style church into a space for gatherings, events, dining and other creative uses since 2016.

This story is posted in partnership with Phoenix Business Journal. Click to read the full story.

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Former mayor ushers in reboot of historic Phoenix church as events, dining space