New life for old church; plans include restaurants and performance spaces

There are big plans for a long-abandoned church; the First Baptist Church in downtown Phoenix near 3rd Avenue and Monroe.

It's been empty for years after being burned in a devastating fire.

But now it looks like it's going to rise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes.

For years you'd walk past this church, it looks like a real church from the outside, but when you peer inside you see there's nothing there, now it appears that is going to change.

The church was built in 1929, although an earlier version of the church on this site dates back to 1903.

It could accommodate 1,500 worshipers, but the congregation moved north and the building fell into disuse before burning in the 1980's.

To Terry Goddard, a former Phoenix Mayor, Attorney General, and Candidate for Governor saving the church is important.

"Well I think it is a jewel for the city and state, maintain traditions that could be a place where you celebrate Arizona from territorial times on," said Terry Goddard.

Now workers are reinforcing the old church. A huge crane was lifted up and over the walls to help make it happen.

The project is called the Monroe Street Abbey. Designers are hopeful it may turn into an entertainment space and gathering place.

"The goal is to open to the sky, we think that will be a great place for concerts, wonderful stage, a sloped floor, other rooms where we could do eating programs. I think we need good restaurant options, and we're beginning to get them in downtown Phoenix," said Goddard.

For more information on the church and the project to save it visit: www.monroestreetabbey.org
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