Public money to back Italian restaurant, preservation in former St. James Methodist church

Nov 13, 2018 297


People entering the historical former St. James United Methodist Church building in downtown Waco see a message in gold lettering assuring that prayer changes things. Lane and Amy Murphy had a prayer answered Thursday, when the board of Tax Increment Financing Zone No. 1 voted to grant $531,185 in TIF money toward a $2.6 renovation plan the couple hope will preserve the former church’s iconic character, honor its place in Waco’s history and create an Italian restaurant in its old fellowship hall. The Waco City Council has final approval on use of TIF money.

The Murphys bought the 13,000-square-foot St. James building at Second Street and Clay Avenue in 2016. It had become a financial burden for the historically black congregation that had worshiped there since 1924 and had seen attendance plummet from more than 600 on Sunday mornings to fewer than 60.

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