Shared from the 5/3/2023 Houston Chronicle eEdition


Tomball EDC’s $4.5M purchase of First Baptist Church will help offer more public parking in Old Town

Courtesy of Tomball Economic Development Corp.

The Tomball Economic Development Corp. has acquired the First Baptist Church property at 401 Oxford St. for a future development as part of the revitalization of Old Town Tomball.

Shoppers and eventgoers will have more public parking options in Old Town Tomball after the Tomball Economic Development Corporation’s recent purchase of the First Baptist Church property at 401 Oxford Street.

Tomball City Council approved the $4.5 million purchase on March 6 and according to the EDC, its focus is to redevelop, revitalize and provide public parking in the downtown area.

The 4.63-acre property still houses First Baptist Church Tomball. The EDC leased the property back to church. The lease will be for the three years.

According to the church’s website, First Baptist Church Tomball looks to build a new campus on 32-plus acres of land off Business 249.

Future uses

Kelly Violette, the EDC’s executive director, said the property on Oxford Street has been for sale for 20 years and the decision to purchase it was a part of organization’s focus on downtown redevelopment.

She said the EDC doesn’t currently have a plan for the property after the lease is up but believes this could be a vital piece to redevelopment efforts. Possibilities range from municipal offices or business use to an auditorium or community center.

“We’re looking at all of the options — what makes the most sense there,” she said. “You’ve got a big sanctuary … there’s so many things that we could do with that.”

Revamping Old Town Tomball

According to Violette, the EDC has learned through community feedback that residents want to see more of a focus on the downtown area. Moving forward, Violette said that a key strategy for the organization is its investments in downtown and the Tomball community.

“The biggest things that we hear for downtown is we need parking,” Violette said. “Obviously, we have a lot of festivals and events, but just on a on a daily basis (too.)”

Through the three-year lease, the EDC will be able to access the lot, which will become public parking. The lot adds 326 parking spaces to downtown Tomball.

“We’re also looking at other areas in conjunction with the city to expand parking in downtown, so we’re looking at kind of a master parking plan,” she said.

Violette said they are looking to add more public parking mirroring the lot at 153-163 N Elm Street near the railroad tracks.

Public input welcome

“I think this is a property that’s going to be very important for downtown and I think one that would be of interest to a lot of people. So, I just want to make the point that there will be opportunities for the public to weigh in and help kind of decide the future of this site,” Violette said.

The city of Tomball’s new master plan may also help inform the EDC’s decision.

The city has started working to develop its first comprehensive 10-year master plan for parks and recreational facilities. Resident were asked for input during a recent open house meeting about the plan, which aims to bring more amenities and walkability to the community over the next decade.

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