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Church opens workspace to nonprofits

January 16, 2019

As renovations near completion, Connection Christian Church is ready to settle into its new home.

Members of the church’s congregation won’t be the only newcomers to the space at 4241 Tanglewood Lane.

Four nonprofit organizations — Centers for Children and Families, Big Brother Big Sister, Nonprofit Management Center and the Permian Playhouse — will enter a shared workspace concept on the property that will be known as Connection Center.

“We knew this building has more space than what we would need, so we began to imagine how we could use that space and for it to be a blessing for our community,” Connection Christian Church co-lead pastor Dawn Weaks said. “We took roughly 10,000 square feet and we renovated it a little to make it work for the Connection Center.”

The largest chunk of the Connection Center will be taken by Centers for Children and Families as the nonprofit organization will leave its location on Tower Drive.

Kristi Edwards, the CEO of Center for Children and Families, is excited about the opportunity to join a shared workspace with three other nonprofit organizations.

“We have literally spent the last two years looking for space,” Edwards said. “Initially, we were looking for a standalone space. When Joe and Dawn Weaks approached us, we thought ‘That’s perfect.’ We are able to have more room to see more clients or we’ll be able to run our supervised visits out of the space that we are in instead of having to borrow space from a church.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters officially opened its Odessa chapter in the fall of 2018, while Nonprofit Management Center has one location in Midland, but serves a majority of West Texas.

“Having someone open up an office and provide that access at such a reasonable price, it really helps get our program off the ground,” Big Brother Big Sisters executive director Kay Crites said. “They are really helping to commit to nonprofits in the Permian Basin.”

Permian Playhouse Manager Brian Serrano said the nonprofit will keep its location at 310 42nd St., but use the Connection Center for its clerical needs.

“Right now our auditorium holds roughly 400 people and our foyer where our office is currently located is congested beyond belief when we have sellouts,” Serrano explained. “Due to the response of the community, we are selling out shows more and more. By taking an office (at the Connection Center) and taking out our office (at 310 42nd St.), we will be less congested.”

Weaks said the reason behind the Connection Center was due to the increase of space.

When the church was located at 610 Lee Ave., Connection Christian Church had nearly a half acre, but its new building is more than 2.4 acres with 30,000 square feet of space. The Tanglewood location is valued at $1.83 million.

There’s also a monetary benefit for the nonprofit organizations to join in a shared workspace.

According to ICA Properties vice president of real estate Tom Glasman, 10,000 square feet of commercial property in Odessa can range between $10,000 and $15,000 per month depending on location and condition.

Weaks wouldn’t disclose the cost that each nonprofit would pay at the Connection Center, but she said it would be close to a breakeven point.

“We have worked out rent for it to be lower than market value that included utilities and we are going to be monitoring that to see if it meets the needs of the nonprofits and covers the church’s cost,” Weaks said. “Our goal is be a blessing (rather) than make a profit.”

Throughout the renovation process, Connection Christian Church has met every Sunday at Blanton Elementary School.

The nonprofit organizations at the Connection Center will have a separate entrance from the church and set their own hours.

“Our church will operate separately but in coordination with the Connection Center partners,” Weaks said.

Laurie Johnson, the director of Nonprofit Management Center, said its Midland office runs in a similar structure. There are 14 nonprofits located in the Midland Shared Spaces office that covers 42,000 square feet, according to Midland Shared Spaces executive director Autumn Vest.

“We will probably have somebody at the office there a couple days a week,” Johnson said. “We are still working that out, but there will be somebody there in Odessa, so nonprofits in Odessa don’t always have to come to the Midland office.

“We are very comfortable in that shared environment,” Johnson added.

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