Demolition of Westwood Christian Church begins, heavy work to start Aug. 11

The former church first closed in 2013, and was demolished by October 2020. File photo.

The Westwood City Council last month approved the demolition of Westwood Christian Church, 5050 Rainbow Boulevard, and awarded the contract to Denton Excavating.

Westwood Christian Church closed its doors in 2013, and the city purchased the property for $400,000 a year later. Mayor David Waters said the only resident feedback he’s received is inquiries about the ability to save some of the stone at the site.

The city is saving the cornerstone, the stone archway and much of the other limestone, he said.

Mayor David Waters said the resident feedback he’s received has all been about ways to preserve pieces of the old church building. Waters said the stone archway, limestone and cornerstone will be salvaged and used in some fashion in the future.

“I think most people have understood there’s some environmental issues with the building that really do not make it salvageable or workable for reuse,” Waters said. “That’s unfortunate, but we’re trying to preserve at least some of the history that goes with the site, and I think people appreciate that.”

The city council budgeted the demolition work in 2020.

A timeline for the demolition work was outlined in the Westwood Buzz newsletter:

  • July 27 to Aug. 10: Light demolition, environmental remediation work and salvage of stone. Noise and neighbor disruptions should be minor.
  • Aug. 11 to Aug. 14: Heavy demolition work with loud equipment noise between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. only.
  • Aug. 17 to Sept. 25: Light to moderate demolition, removal work with minor noise and disruptions.
  • Late October 2020: The land should be ready for open space play and use by neighbors depending on the grass growth.

Waters said the city hopes the demolition will nudge the process along toward a proposed possibility for the site from the 2017 comprehensive plan. The possibilities include the expansion of Joe D. Dennis Park nearby or the addition of retail space at the old church building site.

“I think this is a good step to show we’re ready to proceed and move on and not just stay in one place and wait for things to happen on [the site],” Waters said.

Although the future of Westwood View Elementary, 2511 W. 50th Street, is in the hands of the Shawnee Mission School District, Waters said the church building demolition could accommodate a potential expansion of the school. If the district chooses to move the elementary school and the city purchases the old school building, the old church and school could become a redevelopment site for additional single-family homes.

Following the church demolition, the site will be seeded and act as a green space, Waters said. The city will have to work out what direction is taken at the old church building site, he said.