A Message from the roundtable
In November 2016, a vision was cast, as Via Church started into two years of generosity called Hope Initiative. The purpose was to invest in the mission of God in three areas: Church, City, and World. Through your generosity, Via Church has funded and fulfilled the goals set for the City and World. In addition to increasing financial support to local and world partners in mission, Via joyfully contributed to the church building in Tirana, Albania (now being completed) as well as the sending of Josh Harp to plant a church in Phoenix. We still need to fulfill the vision cast for the Church, which includes updating the auditorium and renovating the nursery, and children’s areas. Before undertaking renovations, further information was needed to develop a master plan for Via Church’s campus.
In Fall 2017, this Pastor’s Roundtable was formed, comprised of thirteen people from the congregation with various areas of relevant experience, expertise, and professional connections. The Roundtable first met on October 30, 2017, at which time Rick Thiemke charged the Roundtable with the following tasks:
Determine the current condition of all church properties and facilities;
Review current and future needs for church programming; and
Make recommendations for a comprehensive master plan for Via Church’s campus.
It was emphasized that there were no limits as to what the Roundtable could and should consider as options, including selling or leasing all or some of the campus, demolishing facilities, and/or constructing new facilities. We took seriously this charge, donated funds to finance these tasks, and met regularly to prayerfully and thoughtfully review and discuss information obtained, develop and implement an action plan, and prepare recommendations for a comprehensive campus master plan.
At our first meeting on October 30, 2017, we reviewed the current status of the campus, discussing the physical condition of the buildings and renovations that might be needed. On the following Sunday, several Roundtable members toured the campus with Donavon Hintz to discuss issues with the facilities that had been identified by staff and others. At subsequent meetings, the Roundtable gathered information regarding the regular costs involved in maintaining and operating the facilities. We determined a facilities inspection was needed and hired Target Building Inspections (“TBI”) to conduct a thorough inspection of all facilities.
TBI inspected the facilities in February 2018 and prepared a Property Condition Report. The Report discussed all six buildings, which were built ranging from 1973 to 2006. It identified both immediate needs and needs for the next five years and included estimated costs for such needs. The immediate needs included site improvements, wall removals, roofing repairs, HVAC replacements, and remodeling to ensure ADA compliance. Over the next five years, TBI recommended additional HVAC replacements, water heater replacements, and significant repairs to the roofs of the older buildings. More than half of the needs and costs identified in the report were for necessary repairs to the four oldest buildings (which are connected by one roof). It would cost Via Church more than $450,000 simply to repair necessary issues and replace essential systems in those four buildings, before any renovations or improvements could be completed.
The Roundtable looked at options to bring in additional revenue and/or to reduce costs. Leasing the facilities was considered but dismissed as it would require the Church to not only complete repairs but perform renovations and improvements to ensure ADA compliance and would require the Church to serve as a landlord. We also toured other East Valley churches and gathered information regarding the costs involved in selling one or both of the Church’s properties and leasing or building a new facility. We determined that leasing would not be cost-effective given the tenant improvements required to make a leased facility suitable for church use and the Church would not have any property interest after making a large investment in a leased facility. We considered building a new facility, but the Church’s current location and facilities are sufficient to meet its needs, and building a new facility would be cost-prohibitive and require it to incur significant debt. Ultimately, we determined that making changes to the existing properties and facility would be the best option financially to ensure long-term sustainability.
The Roundtable then focused on what could and should be done with the current facilities. We reviewed the maintenance and operating costs to continue using all six buildings. We looked at the ministry needs and building usage to see if the programming needs could be met if some buildings were eliminated. Ultimately, we determined that Buildings 3 through 6 (the Community Building, Chapel, Classrooms and Youth Building) were not essential for ministry needs and that ministry would not be hampered if those buildings were taken down. The demolition costs would be less than the costs to perform necessary repairs and replacements to Buildings 3 through 6. Also, the Church would realize significant savings in utility and maintenance costs for those buildings, in the amount of approximately $650,000, over the next five years and would eliminate the costs involved in duplicating audio and visual systems in each of those buildings. The Church could construct new parking (approximately 61 new spaces) where those buildings currently stand, allowing more families to park on the main property instead of in the South Lot.
Finally, we looked at the current 7-year mortgage that Via Church is required to refinance in 2019, available refinancing options, and what additional financing, if any, would be available for renovations and improvements. We were able to identify a partner in ministry to refinance the existing mortgage and provide additional funds to be used towards campus improvements, recommended below. The refinancing will result in a lower monthly mortgage payment, saving the Church more than $2,000 per month.
Based on the information obtained and reviewed, and after prayer and thoughtful consideration, the Roundtable made the following recommendations to the Board of Directors:
That Via Church refinance the current mortgage on the properties and obtain additional funds for improvements to the property.
Using the funds obtained through refinancing, the church pursue the immediate demolition of Buildings 3 through 6 and the construction of additional parking and landscaping in the location of those buildings (Phase I).
That the remaining funds be invested into Phase 2 - the renovation and improvement of Building 1 (Cafe & Kids) and Building 2 (Auditorium), to include:
Investing loan proceeds to prepare plans for renovations consistent with the concept drawings presented to the congregation as part of the Hope Initiative;
Beginning renovations consistent with the plans by the end of 2019; and
Begin raising the additional money required to make the needed improvements to Buildings 1 and 2 using a Building and Ministry Expansion Fund.
That Via Church consider the future purchase of additional property and possible sale of the south parking lot so that the Church campus can eventually be connected on contiguous property.
We appreciate the opportunity to serve Via Church and to assist the Board of Directors in implementing these recommendations.