City of Missoula to lease old library on Sundays to Sovereign Hope Church

Until a redevelopment plan is hatched, the old Missoula Public Library will play host to a church on Sundays.

The hollow sounds of Missoula’s former public library have been replaced by that of children playing on weekdays. On Sundays, it will also include the sounds of the gospel.

The City Council’s Administration and Finance Committee this week approved a $4,500 monthly lease for Sovereign Hope Church to host Sunday services on the city-owned property.

The church experienced construction delays due to COVID-19, and its previous location is planned to be developed as an emergency winter shelter for the Poverello.

“We worked with them to come up with an alternative so we could actually operate that winter shelter, but we didn’t want to leave them behind, so we were able to negotiate a lease here at the Payne Block,” said Dale Bickell, the city’s chief administrative officer.

The lease will extend to April 30, around when the city will start developing a master plan for the city-owned Payne Block, located on the 300 block of Main Street where the old library is located.

Sovereign Hope Church is one of many parties who have expressed short-term interest in the property.

Currently, BASE Camp Missoula, Missoula Park and Recreation’s school-aged child care program, operates in the former library on weekdays.

According to Bickell, they expanded their program in response to COVID-19 and Missoula schools’ current hybrid model. The library works as a suitable place for that temporary expansion, he said.

The City Council will vote on the lease as part of its consent agenda on Monday.