By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
What was Chickie’s Club & Lounge in 1973, and by 1989 had become a no-alcohol hangout for underage Boca teenagers and FAU students called Weekends, in 2018 is being converted by local architect Kenneth Carlson into an industrial-themed, 300-person worship and ministry center with state-of-the art “Safari Kids” ministry rooms.
The building at 2200 NW 2 St./Boca Raton Blvd., next to Maui Spa, is in the final stages of what may be its greatest transformation – into a church home for the 7 ½ year-old Journey Church – Boca Raton, which met previously at Boca High School for 5 years and currently meets at Grandview Preparatory School.
As of Aug. 14, Pastor Jason Hatley said the church building is in its final weeks of renovation.
The contractor, DC Construction Associates, Inc. elaborated, “We are currently in the drywall phase. We will be following up with paint, flooring and fixtures. We added a new fire sprinkler system to protect the space along with a new fire alarm system,” said Chris Peck, Vice President/Director of DC Construction Associates, Inc.
DC Construction Associates has been in business in Boca for over 13 years.
The Journey Church purchased the building in Oct. 2017 and renovations began in April 2018.
According to Hatley, the building was built in 1972, with its original opening estimated to be in 1973. “It’s been all kinds of things…,” he said, referring to different uses of the building over the years.
Boca Journey church leaders stepped out in faith to announce the target grand opening date of Sept. 30 to church members during its July 31 and Aug. 1 preview night tours of the new ministry center.
At that time, the church was just wrapping up interior demolition of the first floor (while church staff worked out of second floor offices), having spent the last three months tearing out floors, ceilings, and the many partitioned smaller rooms below to create a large open space for the worship center, a resource center, a meeting room, a nursing room, and an open hallway leading to what would become the Kids Ministry area.
Fire retardant hung like cobwebs coating overhead industrial pipes, which were about to be spray painted; and fine sawdust covered the floor that was about to be fitted with laminate wood flooring. Drywall and painting had yet to be done. An expansive outdoor patio to be used for fellowshipping after the service and events, and a fountain to be turned into a Baptistery, had yet to receive any finishing touches – including sealing of the patio and painting.
Boca Raton Architect Kenneth Carlson, who attended the preview night with Project Architect Steve Torp and his wife, estimated that they were 70 percent of the way into the project, finishing deconstruction and mechanical work on July 31.
“The church is not a building [but rather the people]. We’ve been proving that for 7 ½ years,” said Hatley, before inviting those attending the preview night to write prayers, notes and Bible verses on the unfinished floor before the group circled up to pray.
Hatley spoke of blessings and challenges ahead for the church, and remembered having dinner with a couple from the church [Vitor and Thali Bidart and his pastor father from Brazil] in Feb. 2017 that proved prophetic for the future vision of the church.
“I have a verse for you: the older pastor told the younger pastor after dinner, sharing Isaiah 54:2-3, ‘Enlarge your house; Build an addition; Spread out your home and spare no expense. For soon, you will be bursting at the seams.’”
Hatley said he took this as a word from God to move forward with a 3-year Daring Faith fundraising initiative for the new building, from June 2016 to July 2019.
Vitor, who is a commercial real estate agent, helped Hatley narrow down to two potential local properties for the new church.
“God can do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine,” Hatley added, quoting Ephesians 3:20.
He went on to share the exciting news with congregants that someone had already booked the first wedding at the new church building.
The Journey Church, Boca, is working with Worlds of Wow in Texas to create a themed Journey Kids Ministry space to engage children and parents.
Evocative of being on safari, the new space will feature computerized check-in kiosks designed like travel crates, and colorful 2-D murals to designate Monkeys, Zebras, Lions classrooms for younger age groups. There will also be a special area for EPIC middle schoolers.
For more information, go to www.bocajourney.com