Above, Kip Nance, Eric Horne and Tanner Elrod of Tyler Construction work on the curb of the new First Baptist Church parking lot across from the church sanctuary. The lot will have a single entrance and exit on Oak Street. A planter will separate the lot from Pecan Avenue and a retaining wall from Myrtle Street.
Above, Kip Nance, Eric Horne and Tanner Elrod of Tyler Construction work on the curb of the new First Baptist Church parking lot across from the church sanctuary. The lot will have a single entrance and exit on Oak Street. A planter will separate the lot from Pecan Avenue and a retaining wall from Myrtle Street.
Construction is under way on a new parking lot for First Baptist Church on Pecan Avenue, which will include enhanced lighting, brickwork, landscaping and other amenities.

Tyler Construction Group of Philadelphia was awarded the $434,000 contract to construct the parking lot, across the street from the sanctuary.

Once complete, 47 parking spots will be available along with six handicapped spaces.

Josh Gamblin, of Tyler Construction, said crew members were working on the curbs along Pecan Avenue and Myrtle Street this week in preparation for the repaving of Pecan from Beacon Street to Columbus Avenue.

The repaving is a project of the state Department of Transportation.

Plans call for a handicapped accessible entrance-exit off Oak Street. A large planter box will be constructed on the west side of the lot for aesthetics.

The planter will be 175 feet by 35 feet, Gamblin said, noting that it would serve as a divider between Pecan and the parking lot.

Gamblin said a retaining wall would also be built along the Myrtle Street side, separating the lot and an embankment.

The project is expected to take 90 days to complete, with an opening date of late July or early August.

Despite recent heavy rainfall, the project remains on schedule.

"The rain didn't mess us up," Gamblin said. "But we have to monitor the silt."

The Rev. Dan Howard, pastor of First Baptist, said that the lot would have brick, concrete and lights similar to the church's current look.

"We're putting down more than asphalt," he said.

The project began two to three months ago when his company was invited to bid on the lot, Gamblin said, along with Perry Construction, W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. and Gregory Construction.

"This is really going to be a great project, Hub King [the engineer], Jim Perry [the landscape architect], and the building and property team from the First Baptist Church have gone above and beyond by designing this project to really enhance this part of Philadelphia," he said. "They've incorporated lighting similar to that used at the depot and the landscaping plan is really going to make an impact. We are honored that the church has chosen to work with us and excited about being a part of a hometown project that is really going to make such a positive change."

As part of an ongoing building project, First Baptist Church plans to construct a new child ministry center just north of the sanctuary.

Recently the historic parsonage was demolished as part of the first phase to construct the facility. The parsonage was built in 1948 but remained vacant for the last several years.

Howard said the church is waiting on finances before starting construction on the child ministry facility.

"It's not on hold," he said. "We're collecting money and still moving forward."

In addition to the new child ministry center, the project will include a tenth of a mile walking path and an outdoor amphitheater.