Auction of Westwood’s Youthfront building contents offers rare opportunities

The Youthfront building on Rainbow Boulevard will be demolished to make way for Woodside Village.
The Youthfront building on Rainbow Boulevard will be demolished to make way for Woodside Village.

If you have a use for 1,450 seats or all the equipment to set up your own theater, there is an auction for you this Saturday.

The auditorium in the Youthfront building still has 1,450 seats available.
The auditorium in the Youthfront building still has 1,450 seats available.

Everything in the Youthfront building at 4715 Rainbow Blvd. in Westwood will be sold off in one day to prepare for demolition of the structure. The building is on the site of the new Woodside Village development and the sale of the property is expected to close at the end of this month. Woodside Village will be a mixed use development with a grocery and other retail, office space and apartments.

Youthfront, though, intends to stay in the same location, according to Topher Philgreen, Youthfront’s Chief Operating Officer. The organization has moved to temporary headquarters a couple of blocks north at 45th and Rainbow, but will have offices in Woodside Village when the development is complete.

Philgreen says its youth ministry programs have changed over the years and the large building, with its full television studio and 1,500 seat auditorium, was no longer necessary and had become expensive to maintain. The first building at the site went up in 1952 and the current structure was built in five stages. The auditorium was added in 1966 and the TV studio in 1978. The television operation was sold in 1997.

The first event held by Kansas City Youth for Christ, the forerunner of Youthfront, was held in 1943 when it was founded by Al Metsker. His son, Ronnie Metsker, took over in the late 1980s and headed the organization until his retirement a few years ago.

Youthfront started, Philgreen said, when no full-time youth ministers served the metro. Now, more than 700 full and part-time youth ministers serve at churches within a two-hour drive and part of the mission is to support local churches in their youth programs. Today, Youthfront has two camps in Kansas, a facility in the Argentine neighborhood of KCK and a mission in Mexico.

At one time, the Saturday night youth rallies in the auditorium would draw nearly a full house, according to Philgreen. Now, it is easier to have youth events at facilities around the metro rather than bring them to a central site.

The building has a full kitchen and office furnishings. Auctioneer Dennis Wendt said t is an unusual offering with items rarely seen for sale. Anything that can be hauled out will be sold, but the buyer has only a week or so to remove it, Wendt said (no sweat, those 1,450 chairs aren’t bolted down). The sale even includes five ATVs brought up from the camps.

The contents can be viewed Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sale starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and is expected to last most of the day.