By Kevin Collison
Ten years after purchasing the historic City Bank Building at 1801 Grand Blvd., the Church of Scientology is expected to begin renovation work on what will become its new metropolitan offices and worship center in early October.
Church officials could not be reached for comment, but a source familiar with the project said the approximately $10 million renovation will follow historic preservation standards and be completed in about 14 months. A bid document for the project was released in July.
The building, which opened in 1926, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building, which features two seven-story wings connected by a two-story lobby, was developed by the renowned Kemper banking family, according to the National Register application. Its lobby featured five types of marble and a beamed ceiling in an “Aztec” style pattern.
It also featured the only “steelcrete” bank vault in Kansas City. The unique steel-reinforced concrete material was said to be burglar proof, according to the historic application.
The old bank building has been vacant since shortly after the church acquired it in 2007. The sale also included two nearby parking lots.
At the time it was acquired, a church official said the new facility would serve as the spiritual center for Scientologists in the Kansas City area and be the administrative hub for programs serving members in western Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
That 2007 plan called for the church to occupy all 65,751 square feet of the building, and about 100 staff members were expected to be relocated there. The Church of Scientology is currently located at 39th and Main streets. The midtown facility was expected to be sold after completion of the downtown project.
The new Church of Scientology facility is located across 18th Street from the historic Kansas City Star building at 1729 Grand. That property was recently sold to a developer who plans to renovate it for potential office and data center space.