The former New Beginnings United Methodist Church building, built in 1876 and located at 385 E. William St. directly west of The Point, will be operating under a new purpose soon. Delaware City Council approved the final development plan to repurpose the building for a multi-purpose venue during Monday’s meeting.
Under the approved proposal, John and Tess Meeker will use the first floor of the building as the location of “Meekers Venue,” which will serve primarily as a wedding venue. In addition to hosting weddings, the approximately 13,000-square-foot first floor could also be used for various parties, celebrations, community events, and other similar events.
The Meekers plan to install a 6-foot privacy fence on the east side of the property to allow for outdoor space and, perhaps, partially cut down on the noise of traffic moving through The Point. Other than the addition of the fence, no changes to the appearance of the building are part of the Meekers’ proposal.
Along with the venue space, office space will also be made available for services such as counseling, Bible study groups, and various nonprofit organizations.
The location has 50 parking spaces on site, which would be both problematic for larger events being held at the venue and would not meet the city’s code of one parking spot per every 150 square feet. To remedy the shortage in parking, the Meekers sought and received permission from Conger Elementary School to use their parking lot during times when the district or school is not using the lot. Use of the school lot will add an additional 46 parking spots for a total of 96 spots for the venue. No on-street parking will be allowed on Foley Street.
As part of the final development plan, the second floor of the building will be used for residential single-family use. According to the city documents, the Meekers could potentially move into the approximately 3,079-square-foot, second-floor living space after their children have graduated from high school. They said the intention is for the operation to be a “mom-and-pop” business.
“From a staff perspective, from all departments, the Meekers have been wonderful to work with,” Delaware Planning and Community Development Director Dave Efland said during the meeting. “They’re small business owners, they have been in this business for a while. So, they do know what they are doing.”
Tess Meeker has spent more than six years serving as a wedding coordinator and venue administrator.
Councilman Chris Jones said he was thrilled when he saw the proposal submitted by the Meekers. “I drive past there twice a day, every day, and I’ve always been thinking, ‘What’s going to happen with that church?’ So, this is a blessing, especially with all the development we’re doing on the east side of town. I think it’s fantastic.”
Jones went on to thank the Meekers for bringing a viable business to The Point and “the entryway to the city.”