ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A former church in Nob Hill, known lately for attracting trouble, is getting a second chance. Shuttered for years, this building once served as the Trinity Methodist Church back in the 1940s. Lately, neighbors just call it a nuisance and an eyesore.
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“We moved in across the street about five years ago. That was right around the point where it was unoccupied,” said neighbor Melissa Scott. “It’s been really sad to watch it fall into disrepair because it’s a really beautiful building.”
For a while, after the church closed, the building was owned by realtor Chris Pino who eventually went to prison for running over and killing a homeless man in the parking lot back in 2017. Then, the abandoned church became a target for the homeless to sleep inside.
“It was not infrequent to wake up to fire trucks and smoke billowing out the windows,” said Scott. “One morning at 6 a.m., we got up and went outside in our robes and saw that it was on fire.”
Now, it’s getting new life, thanks to the City on a Hill Church. Moving from the Northeast Heights on San Mateo where they operated as “North Church”, they’re looking to move back to their Nob Hill roots and original name.
“As we were looking around town to purchase a building to become a permanent fixture for our church, we would really love to come back to the Nob Hill area,” said Ryan Williams, lead pastor of City on a Hill. “As we looked, this building was available and it’s a beautiful old church, and the opportunity to redeem something that was broken really appealed to all of us.”
However, those renovations were a tall order. Crews have to nearly gut the old building and repair the smoke and fire damage while bringing all internal systems up to code.
“It’s been a place of a lot of brokenness in this community for a lot of years now,” said Williams. “From electrical to HVAC to plumbing, everything needs to be brand new.”
Lately, City on a Hill Church started asking the community what they want out of the church since many of those neighbors are the ones who dealt with the brunt of the building’s issues over the past few years. They say one thing they did hear from quite a few neighbors is that they don’t want it to operate as a soup kitchen or shelter.
“We have knocked on over 100 doors,” said Williams. “Had over 100 conversations with neighbors north, south, east, and west.”
Over the next few months, they plan to brainstorm how they can still give back to those in need. Still, some neighbors say they’re glad for the building to get a second chance without having to be knocked down.
“Huge relief. Truth be told, we were a little bit nervous that no one would be willing to purchase it and renovate it and just demolish it,” said Scott. “It’s such a beautiful building.”
The church plans to be open by the end of this year or early next year. Until then, they’ll operate out of the Lobo Theater.