UTICA — Turning Point Church, which sits in the footprint of the planned downtown hospital, has found a new home.
The church recently reached a purchase option agreement with the Mohawk Valley Health System for its building at 438 Columbia St., said Pastor Chris Tringali.
The church also has a contract to purchase the former Grimaldi’s Restaurant, located at 418 Bleecker St. — an agreement Tringali said he hopes the owner will be willing to keep in place until the health system closes on the church. Grimaldi's closed in 2012 and the building is currently unoccupied.
“It’s only about 2,000 or 3,000 more (square) feet than the building we have now, it’s just that it’s in much better shape than the building we have now,” Tringali said.
The new location also has a parking lot and is located across the street from a park, he said. It's less than a mile from the current location, so many members of the congregation still will be able to walk to church. The church also will start a service to drive members over from Kennedy Plaza Apartments, he said.
Turning Point Church has coped with years of uncertainty and a resulting inability to grow and plan after plans for the downtown hospital were revealed, said Tringali, who had worried about finding another affordable location near his congregation with enough space for all the programs the church wants to run.
“It’s just been such a frustrating, long road,” he said. “It’s still stressful. We have to get it ready. It’s a big move. But I trust God will get us through it.”
The health system plans to build a $450 million hospital in the neighborhood between Oriskany, Columbia and State streets and Broadway. The health system has reached purchase agreements with at least nineteen of 35 affected private property owners and remains in active negotiations with others. It hasn’t reached two property owners and four property owners have refused to sell, making eminent domain proceedings likely.
“I am pleased that Turning Point Church and its congregation will be staying in Utica,” city Mayor Robert Palmieri said in an emailed statement. “The construction of a state-of-the-art medical facility will serve as a catalyst for Utica’s continued growth. As an administration, we have worked collaboratively with our project partners to retain as many impacted businesses and organizations as possible.”
Moving into a former restaurant will help Tringali, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, reach his eventual goal of forming a second nonprofit to open a restaurant and train workers for restaurant jobs, he said. Tringali said he doesn’t expect that to happen for at least a few years, however.
For now, the building’s ground floor will house the sanctuary, a coffeehouse and the children’s ministry. Someday, the sanctuary will move to the entire second floor, Tringali said.
Tringali said that he expects the health system to purchase properties in the first quarter of next year, leaving his church 120 days to move.
Contact reporter Amy Neff Roth at 315-792-5166 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Roth).