Planning Committee 2020 Year End Summary/2021 Updates: What We Know Now

Dear Friends,

Overview: Some of this information has been shared during Planning Pulpit minutes over the past several months, which are available in the UUFP Expansion eFlame folder. This document summarizes congregational decisions, research, progress, and planning regarding our move to a new church home.

Background and Research: In March, 77% of the congregation present at a membership meeting voted to seek another location for UUFP in order to better fulfill our Mission and Vision for the future.

Sale of property: Key to fulfilling our vision in moving to a new location is the sale of our Youngs Mill holdings. Just last year, we received a real estate assessment of our property’s current value. Bob Saunders, an agent at Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate, suggested that he would list our fellowship property at $775,000, expecting to sell it in the range of $500,000-$728,000, less transaction costs.

While we might get a little more if we sell separately, Jay Joseph has suggested it’s nonetheless likely best to sell both the office building and the sanctuary at the same time.  That is, if we sold one but not the other building, we, effectively, would be hamstrung, not in the best position to take the next steps in procuring a new property.

Storage needs: Before putting the property on the market whenever the Board and the congregation agree to do so, we need to know the cost of storage for our belongings and cost of facilities rental should we sell our Youngs Mill property before finding a new church home.

Steve Kadar contacted staff and committee chairs, seeking information on storage needs. Based on the information gathered, he estimated we might need the following:

    • Climate controlled storage @ $200/month (5 large units $12,000/year)
    • Equivalent sized non-climate controlled @ $175/month (5 large units $10,500/ year)
    • This cost will be offset by eliminating the building related ownership and maintenance
      expenses of about $26,000/yr.
    • Purging the things the Fellowship no longer wants would be a good idea (some of this was done in fall 2019).

Rental facilities for temporary worship home: Also in May, Jay Joseph indicated the following options for temporary facilities rental for us.

    • Sandy Bottom
    • Jewish community center gym
    • Elementary schools
    • Warwick UCC on J Clyde Morris and Jefferson
    • Holiday Inn Oyster Point
    • Temple Sinai

Rental property availability is currently limited due to COVID uncertainties but should improve when the pandemic is no longer a factor.

Properties available for purchase: Many commercial properties are publicly available and advertised through the usual channels. By contrast, church properties often never come on the market but are sold via word of mouth. Rev. Andrew has reached out to the Peninsula Baptist Association and let them know we will be looking for a new home.

The real estate search so far: Between March and December 2020, the Real Estate Task Force has considered eight properties. All were rejected as not appropriate to our various needs (too large/small, location, under contract, etc.). This has been a good learning experience for us to see what is on the market and what the properties are listed for. None were in line with the congregation's vision. Planning will share the pictures and critiques of the future properties with the Fellowship in hopes of creating excitement and input from a larger audience.

More recently, we toured Emmanuel Lutheran Church (23 Semple Farm Road), Sunday, February 7. We have watched this property for some time and will report back on its suitability.

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Financing

Some in our congregation may have concerns about how we can afford a new building, with a cost in the $1.3 - 2M range. The funds for purchasing our new property will come from these three sources:

    • The sale of our buildings
    • Capital Campaign
    • Bank mortgage

Parker has learned much from his work with local banks. Particularly promising is his ongoing work with Towne Bank, the same representative and bank used by CVUU (our sister congregation in Virginia Beach) for their financing. He was encouraged that Towne Bank did not seem overly concerned with our remaining $55K debt.

Here is an easy math approximation of how the financing might work out for a $2M project. Exact amounts, of course, are not yet known.

    • $500,000 (25% down) would come from the sale of current properties
    • $1M (50%) would come from the Capital Campaign (4x annual budget)
    • $500,000 (25%) would come through commercial bank mortgage to be secured by the building.

Monthly payments for a $500,000 mortgage at 4%/20 yrs. would be approximately $3,000/mo. or $36,000/yr.

Our existing property loan costs us $1,650/mo. The anticipated $500K mortgage for the new property at $3,000/mo. would represent a net additional mortgage expense of $1,350/mo. to us or $16,200/yr. In addition, a larger building will have additional expenses for utilities, insurance, cleaning, taxes, salaries, etc. estimated by Finance to be approximately $3,000/mo. or $36,000/yr., which totals to $4,350/mo. or $52,000/yr.

How do we cover this additional mortgage amount? Our average pledge is $1,959, so if no one increased their pledge, we would need  27 new members to cover new mortgage costs and the extra expenses associated with larger facilities. Such growth in membership is quite likely given the extensive growth in membership enjoyed by both Williamsburg UU and CVUU following their expansions. The additional funding described here  would be the equivalent of  current pledgers increasing their pledge by an average of 22%/yr. to cover all these costs. 

We have two significant ways to soften this potential financial impact. First, we will train a Stewardship team to assist Finance by doing one-on-one member visits to encourage congregational engagement and generosity in annual pledging and Capital Campaign giving. UUFP pledge giving has historically been below the average for other UU churches and we anticipate there is room to grow in this area. Second, we will add approx. $100K to the Capital Campaign goal and hold this money in reserve to pay two years of the added expenses while we grow our pledge base. 

Towne Bank would advance us approximately 80% of the Capital Campaign pledged amount as an interest-only loan, and this amount and its accumulating interest would be paid off as the pledges come in over several years.

Optimism in fundraising: The Planning Committee is very optimistic that we will be more than able to meet these relatively modest new mortgage obligations. UUFP has raised the funds to secure consultant help and guidance from UU consultant Mark Ewert. We are beginning training of a Stewardship Leader Team, a group who will lead UUFP stewards in our capital campaign, as we learn to expand our understanding of life engagement with our UU beloved community. While Stewardship training speaks most directly to the upcoming capital campaign (see below), we anticipate a transformation within our giving culture which should extend also to the monthly expenses addressed in annual campaigns to support the operating and program expenses of the fellowship.

Further, we also note that CVUU’s Capital Campaign did not raise all of the money they needed with their first ask. Special interest groups like green sanctuary, social justice, etc. conducted subsequent fund raising events to raise extra monies to complete certain projects. Once they found their “dream home” they were energized and excited to make things happen. Indeed, in the two years after their move, their membership grew by 64 adults and 97 children.

The capital campaign & preparing for the campaign: A professionally led Capital Campaign will be critical for our success. Planning understands that the board has a target of Fall 2021 for the Capital Campaign. This gives us the intervening time (January – April) to run our annual Pledge campaign, train the Stewardship Team, and let the nation return to some normality after COVID vaccines are widely administered.

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We are in a complex situation, as Mark Ewert articulated in his report. In order to proceed effectively, Mark has recommended a range of steps:

Because the current situation is so complex and dynamic, it will be helpful to create a number of different scenarios for how the process might go and what resources might be needed.

    • What if a new property becomes available quickly and you have to move to grab it?
    • What if you are ready and a suitable property does not become available for a long time?
    • What if you need a transitional space so that you can renovate the new place before you move in or in case you sell before you are ready to buy?
    • What might be the timing and order of these events?
    • How can different options be built in, depending on if the campaign and sale result in greater or lesser resources? (Ewert, “Next Steps Process Report”).

The Planning Committee has begun work in many of these areas.  We will further our efforts in 2021 in assisting the board in encouraging Stewardship, financial scenarios for different contingencies, and communications.

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We have asked the Board to consider the following tentative, illustrative timeline:

First or Second Quarter of 2021:

    • Training of Stewardship Team for Capital Campaign
    • Consider putting Youngs Mill property on the market in 2021
    • Ongoing search for properties to purchase
    • Ongoing search for potential properties for rental as interim home
    • Planning and Board identify the specific steps and lines of authority for making an offer on property once a suitable property is found; annual “Pledge Drive” with on-the-job training for our new Stewardship team.

Third and Fourth Quarters of 2021:

    • September – October: Capital Campaign (or as soon as COVID concerns will allow in-person stewardship meetings)

First and Second Quarter of 2022:

    • Procure new property, renovate as needed, and move in.

The Planning Committee is here to serve the board and the congregation. Please contact any member of planning if you have questions or comments. We recently re-read Mark Ewert’s report in full and found it helpful.  Perhaps you will too!

We will work together to bring our vision to life in these challenging times.

Sincerely,

The Planning Team

Sandy Burkes-Campbell, Chair
Larry Campbell
Steve Kadar
Parker Stokes
Rebecca Wheeler
–last edits 2-15-21 and 3/3/21 by Parker

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