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Transformation Church's latest investment in Tulsa adds up to $66 million on properties in two years
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Transformation Church's latest investment in Tulsa adds up to $66 million on properties in two years

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A Tulsa-area church that a few years ago transformed an arena used for basketball games into a worship center now has acquired one of Tulsa’s largest and somewhat iconic office buildings.

Transformation Church, which purchased the Unit Corp. building at 8200 S. Unit Drive for $35 million, will occupy office space in the six-story tower, said Tammy McQuarters, executive pastor of operations for the church.

McQuarters said floors four through six in the building will be used for church offices. Church services and other social activities will remain at the former Spirit Bank Event Center in Bixby, where the church is currently located, she said.

The move to the Unit Corp. building among a church staff of about 100 is planned for later this fall, she said.

With the latest purchase of the building in west Tulsa, Transformation Church has now spent about $66 million on various buildings and properties.

McQuarters said the church’s growth and financial strength are because of its members, which the church refers to as “partners.”

“It’s because of the generosity of our partners. We have been very blessed to have partners who know that what they do allows us to do what we are able to do,” she said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 4,200 people attended in-person services in the former event center in Bixby, with thousands of others from around the world watching live on YouTube and other streaming platforms, she said.

The church has not had in-person services for its partners since March 2020, she said.

However, church pastors have continued to hold Sunday services at the former event center, with as many as 24,000 people watching live online, McQuarters said.

That number has since leveled off to an average of 13,000 to 14,000 people per week, but the church also has hundreds of thousands of views on rebroadcasts of its services each week, she said.

In-person services and activities for up to 500 children will eventually resume, she said, depending on when ongoing construction of the former event center can be completed.

Husband-and-wife lead pastors Michael and Natalie Todd took over Transformation Church’s operation in 2015 from its founder, Bishop Gary McIntosh, who ran the church for 15 years. As the church has expanded in recent years, it has added to its real estate portfolio.

In August 2019, Transformation purchased the empty Spirit Bank Event Center at 10441 S. Regal Blvd. in Bixby for $10.5 million. It followed that purchase in 2020 by buying the PostRock Plaza retail center (10438 S. 82nd East Ave.), which surrounds the event center, for $20.5 million.

The church moved into the event center but needed more office space for its administrative staff.

“This sale positions the church for continued growth in south Tulsa and provides Unit Corp. the opportunity to retain two floors of office space,” broker Rick Guild said in a statement. “It was a win-win for both sides of this deal.”

Pastor Michael Todd was traveling and was not available for an interview last week, McQuarters said.

However, the church in an Instagram post last week said “TC Nation ... we want to introduce you to Transformation Towers. The New Global Headquarters of Transformation Church,” along with a photo of who appears to be pastor Michael Todd with his arms outstretched in front of the building.

Transformation Church on its website says “We exist to Re-Present God to the lost and found for transformation in Christ. We are a multi-church. Meaning we are a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, multi-plying, and multi-campus.”

In addition to its property purchases, the church also donated $200,000 each to the remaining Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, $50,000 to the Terence Crutcher Foundation, $50,000 to Build in Tulsa, $100,000 to One Race Movement and $100,000 to Greenwood Cultural Center, according to the Christian Post.

During church services, McQuarters said, “We have a moment for (financial) giving, but we make sure that our partners know it is they who are making a difference.”

In addition to recent donations in Tulsa, the church has also assisted with natural disaster relief and has contributed to other causes such as housing and anti-sex-trafficking efforts, she said.

“It is because of our partners that we are able to help so many different people,” she said.

Michael Todd, who is a New York Times best-selling book author, also recently appeared on a new podcast by “Today” show host Hoda Kotb.

“I started out as the sound man of our church. Like, I would be fixing your mic right now if you came to my church. ... And then, literally four years later, I’m the lead pastor of the church, and I’m like, ‘How in the world did this happen?’” he said during the appearance.

“Like, ‘Somebody got the wrong person!’ And I gave to this transformation — that’s why our church is called Transformation Church — because I believe that you can actually change. And I began to see things that weren’t natural to me seeing.

“Like, 37 days after I became the lead pastor of our church that was less than 300 people ... I just hear this impression: The Spirit Bank Event Center is going to be Transformation Church. And I’m like, ‘What?’ And I had the audacity to write it down. ... Five years later, Hoda, I got the keys to that building. ... It was a little miracle after little miracle: me believing in what I wrote down. Me telling other people that this is possible. And if it happened, this couldn’t be us! This had to be some divine intervention. And, literally, step-by-step-by-step-by-step. And I had ‘maybe’ faith and ‘baby’ faith and ‘lazy’ faith and ‘crazy’ faith.

“But that’s why I called this whole message that I’m giving people — It’s like: This is a message of crazy faith. Because it’s only crazy until it happens.”

The latest transaction of the Unit Corp. building has also benefited the energy company, its representatives said.

The building is located on the southeast corner of 81st Street and Union Avenue, just west of U.S. 75 and the Tulsa Hills shopping center.

Unit reportedly invested $50 million into the building when it was constructed, according to Tulsa World archives.

The 196,350-square-foot facility includes a circular drive and an outdoor fountain.

Brokers Guild, Dilon Argo and Brad Rice of Newmark Robinson Park handled the sale of the energy firm’s corporate headquarters. The company, which developed the structure in 2016, will remain a significant tenant in the building. Unit Corporation has leased back 75,000 square feet.

Unit Corp. will be located on the second and third floors of the building, with shared space for both the company and the church on the first floor, McQuarters said.

Paine Property Management will manage the asset for the buyer and Brian Paine has represented the church in their growth, the management company said.

The sale of the six-story tower allowed Unit to pay off its debt balances and have additional liquidity to deploy for high-return opportunities, Unit Chairman and CEO Philip B. Smith said.

Unit announced just more than a year ago that it had emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“The sale of the headquarters building further strengthens our financial position,” Smith said in a statement.

KKT Architects designed the building, which includes a conference center with clerestory windows, a safe room and a four-story parking garage linked to the building by an enclosed walkway.

Unit was founded in Tulsa in 1963 by King Kirchner and Don Bodard, who purchased it from Woolaroc Oil Co. At that time, Unit consisted of three rigs that engaged in the contract drilling of oil and natural gas wells.

The company eventually added exploration and production, and went through several name changes.

“The building is incredible,” McQuarters said. “We have been blessed to have the opportunity to purchase it, and it has really been a win-win situation for everyone.”


Related at tulsaworld.com

Tulsa’s Transformation Church buys Unit Corporation building for $35 million

Church group buys SpiritBank Event Center in Bixby

Retail center in Bixby sold to church-affiliated group for $20.5 million

Tulsa-based energy company Unit Corp. files for Chapter 11 protection

From the archives in 2014: John Stancavage: Unit breaks ground for new HQ

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