New England Conference purchases new Conference Center

The new Conference Center will be located at 411 Merrimack St. in Methuen, MA. Photos courtesy of Colliers International

October 06, 2017

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar and the New England Conference Board of Trustees are pleased to announce the location of the new Conference Center.  

The Conference has purchased the building at 411 Merrimack St. in Methuen, MA. The space will house the episcopal office along with the conference and the Tri-State District offices.

The building is 22,500 square feet on 1.06 acres of property that includes parking. The purchase price is $1.2 million.

“As your episcopal leader and brother in Christ, I am so thankful to each and every one of you at the Annual
Conference for supporting this project,” Bishop Devadhar said. “We are called on to be good stewards of our resources, and this move helps us do so. Please pray that we will continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit as we proceed through this process.”

The bishop extended his gratitude to the chairpersons and members of the Board of Trustees and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration for their “diligent and faithful work on this.”

In a letter written on behalf of the Trustees announcing the purchase, Board President Bernie Campbell referred to the new building as “a facility more suitable for the mission of ministry of the New England Annual Conference.”

“We continue to ask for your prayers for guidance and wisdom as we proceed with this process,” Campbell wrote. “Hopefully, by the spring, we will have new and exciting spaces in which to do God’s work.”

Campbell also expressed gratitude on behalf of the Trustees for the financial support of the United Methodist Foundation of New England.

Read the complete letter here

The Conference will occupy just over 10,000 square feet on the second floor of the former medical office building in Methuen. Negotiations to sell the first floor are under way. Under the current plan, a walk-in basement level will be shared space.

The next step is to renovate the property. Trident Building of Salem, NH, will serve as an “Owner’s Project Manager” on the project, and it is hoped that the offices will be ready in late spring 2018.

Updates on other Conference buildings

566 Commonwealth Ave., Boston: The co-op board there continues to raise objections to the sale of this
property. See Campbell’s letter for more details about that.

276 Essex St., Lawrence: A purchase and sale agreement has been signed for the current Conference Center, and the buyer is currently doing their due diligence. That process is expected to be completed in by year’s end. While awaiting the completion of the new building, the staff will occupy the fourth and fifth floors at Essex Street.

The Board of Trustees got approval from the 2015 Annual Conference to seek a new location for the Conference Center. The current location presents several challenges – including a lack of parking and handicapped accessibility. 

An analysis by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) showed the building needs significant repairs and is larger than necessary to accommodate the 17 people who work in the building. Bishop Devadhar extended his thanks to GCFA for their expert assistance in evaluating the current space and identifying these concerns.

The Conference first occupied 276 Essex St. in 1996 under a lease/purchase agreement, and purchased the building in 2002 for $350,000.