First United Methodist Church to purchase Pop’s BBQ property

Members of the First United Methodist Church in Iowa City voted to buy the property where Pop’s BBQ is located.

The congregation voted after worship on Sunday, with 64 of 69 votes cast in favor of the purchase.

The purchase is part of the First United Methodist Church’s three-year fundraising campaign that began in October.

The Uncommon Faith fundraising campaign seeks to expand the ministries and missions of the church in the community. Among the three objectives of the fundraising campaign, there is the purchase of the Pop’s BBQ land at 130 N. Dubuque St.

The First United Methodist Church and the Wesley Student Center are seen, Thursday, May 7, 2020, along Dubuque Street in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Reverend Barrie Tritle of the First United Methodist Church told the Press-Citizen the next step would be to purchase the property, which is one block north of the church. The church board and finance committee will determine the timing of the sale; they have until early March to execute the option on the property, according to Tritle.

Tritle has stated that Pop’s BBQ’s lease will be honored.

“We have no urgency for someone to leave,” he said.

At Sunday’s meeting, it was stated that the purchase of the land from Pop’s BBQ is aimed at expanding ministries in the community. More immediately, the church will continue to use part of this land for parking for Sunday morning services under a current agreement.

About 19 years ago, the property where Pop’s BBQ is now located became available for sale, but the First United Methodist Church was unable to purchase it, Tritle said.

A pulled pork sandwich is pictured with a side of mac and cheese, Monday, April 8, 2019, at Pop's Old N 'New Bar-BQ in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Wesley Foundation struck a deal with Patricia Lenoch, who owned and legally owned a “6,000 square foot property at 130 N. Dubuque St” as early as 2003, according to Press-Citizen records. The deal was facilitated by Welsey Foundation Executive Director Paul Shultz and Board Chair Jane Driscoll.

This agreement included an option to purchase the property at 130 N. Dubuque St. when Lenoch passed away. According to the Johnson County Recorder’s office, this agreement was executed in 2003.

Lenoch died in September.

That option to buy was transferred to the First United Methodist Church when it bought the Wesley Center property in 2019, Tritle said.

Currently, the church has 111 pledges for its fundraising campaign, resulting in $ 1,655,622, according to Tritle.

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Beyond the purchase of Pop’s BBQ, the fundraising campaign details the improvements made to the church, including new paint for the ceiling and walls as well as new flooring, which will cost $ 250,000. The other plan listed in the fundraising campaign is to pay down debt from the Wesley Center and Geiger House, an estimated cost of $ 1 million.

According to the First United Methodist Church’s detailed fundraising brochure, the many occupants of the Wesley Center have “paid off the continuing debt of the structure” but “having these tenants does not allow the church to grow in that space.” .

Tenants at the Wesley Center include the LGBTQ Archives and Library, the ArtiFactory, and the University of Iowa’s labor campaign to organize graduate students.

The First United Methodist Church building committee will begin discussions in January to determine how the Pop’s BBQ and Wesley Center properties will be developed.

Paris Barraza covers entertainment, lifestyle, and the arts at the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Contact her at [email protected] or (319) 519-9731. Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza.

Jerry B. Hatch