The turn of events for the TBC Construction & Renovation Committee over the past six weeks has been rather astonishing.  The change in direction for our efforts was presented to the members who attended the Quarterly s Meeting on October 15th, and the new proposal seems to have been very well-received.  Please review this summary of events and next steps to remain updated and engaged in the future of our TBC facilities.  We sincerely appreciate your involvement in what has been a story of patience.

At the July 2017 Quarterly Business Meeting the congregation voted approval of demolition of our two row houses.  This may have been the third or fourth time the church has voted to take the houses down, and this decision was no easier than in the past.  It was a difficult choice that we felt was necessary based on the condition of the houses and the anticipated costs to fix them.  This vote included an understanding that we would proceed with creating a new front to the Williams Building after row house demolition, as well as with creating more detailed plans for the “green space” that would be result from tearing down the row houses.  We had completed plans and pricing for the demolition, scheduling the destruction to begin on 10/2/17.  We also scheduled a meeting with our neighbors to alert them to any impact the work would have on them for 9/24/17, and we invited both church members and our TCCC families to bid on items in the two row houses to raise money before demolition began.

That’s when our path began to take a new course!  An individual interested in some of the items for purchase from the row houses asked Eliot Clark of Stonewall Construction to stop by to help with making sure some of the items of interest would work.  Eliot’s immediate reaction was not so much about those items but rather what he could do to save the houses.  His professional career has been working on the restoration of Fan District homes, rehabilitating hundreds of homes in his own neighborhood.  His father died in May, and he knew that his father would be honored if Eliot could help us save these historic homes.  He quickly created a possible cost/profit estimate spreadsheet, and he left a message for our Senior Pastor to call him.  Sterling called Eliot about twenty minutes before Fellowship activities on Wednesday, 9/20/17, walking into the Fellowship Hall that evening in amazement at what he had heard.  Eliot made a generous offer to help significantly reduce the overall costs of renovation, essentially making an offer to save the church close to $250,000 in professional fees.  Could this be another example of God’s divine intervention in the life of our church?

With this new opportunity regarding the row houses, the committee members agreed to pause the efforts related to tearing down the row houses and focus on refining the details around saving them.  Since 9/21/17 the members of the Construction & Renovation Committee have worked to validate that Eliot’s proposal to save the row houses and turn them into duplexes (two apartments per building) is doable for TBC.  There are many elements to consider—construction costs, how we pay for construction, City Code requirements, tax implications, tax credits that may be available due to restoring historic homes, property management, impact on the Tabernacle Child Care Center (TCCC), etc.  Our research so far indicates that the proposal appears to be viable.  We will know more about the effect on the bottom line income numbers when all costs have been identified and incorporated in our analysis.   We will continue to expedite additional research to ensure that all aspects of this proposal make this new approach for the row houses is in the best interests of our congregation today and in the future.

  1. Why Do We Want Apartments?
    • This approach essentially establishes another endowment for the church
    • The net income from the rent each year can support TBC and its ministries long term
  1. What Will We Need to Do to Establish & Manage These Apartments?
    • Apply for a Virginia Baptist Extension Board construction loan of up to $500,000.
    • Determine how to use our God-Sized Vision funds to support the row houses proposal and any additional approved improvements to the main church building.
    • Verify & Complete Steps for Tax Credits, based on renovating two historic homes (~$100,000 to pay towards costs).
    • Establish an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation).
    • Outline all anticipated longer-term costs associated with the apartments, including:
      • Property Management, with a cost of ~10% of rental income annually
      • Maintenance/Vacancy costs annually, allowing for ~10% per year
      • Insurance Costs (have verified that insurance remains similar to today’s costs)
      • Loan Payments
    • Complete architectural drawings and confirm construction costs.
    • Secure a Special Use Permit (SUP) to change zoning from Single Family Dwelling to zoning for apartments (six month process), and determine costs associated with obtaining this SUP.
    • Set up financial management of the project.
    • Establish what we believe to be true net income/expense dollars during construction, after construction, during paying off the loan, and after the loan is paid off.
    • Present the results of our additional analysis for a church vote regarding whether we proceed with this proposal.
    • Create a milestones plan for renovation and communicate impact of renovation activities to our neighbors and TCCC families.

We invite you to ask your questions to any of our Construction & Renovation Committee members at any time.  It is important for you to be informed about this proposal, and we welcome your input.  We plan to keep you updated on a regular basis prior to holding any vote for action related to how we address use of the row houses.  This is truly a unique story of how God provides, and we can only wonder how He will continue to bless our efforts as we move forward in this story that is part of Tabernacle Baptist Church!

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