Q & A: November 2018 Congregational Meeting


1) We’ve lost a lot of congregants over the last few years. What are we doing to contact them and encourage them to return and have a voice in our future, which includes our new building?

Many of the people who have left us are probably able to contribute substantially to our capital campaign. In the wake of the departure of the Director of Congregational Life, we have been in process of rebuilding our membership growth systems. Our work is slowed in that we do not have paid administrative support going into 2019. We will do our best to reach out to previous congregants.

2) Suggest a committee of significant social justice activists to support our SJ Chair. The Social Justice Coordinator will be building a Coordination Team in 2019.

3) The walls and attic need to be insulated. Basic human needs from someone who teaches in a building with no insulation.

We absolutely consider insulation an essential feature. More than likely even in the Bare Bones Option 2, the county would require us to meet insulation requirements. All of the other options (3, 4, 5) have plans to be insulated using many of the most up-to-date, climate friendly methods of energy conservation.

4) The ashes from the Memorial Garden are being stored at no charge by a funeral home. They agreed to store them until this month. Hopefully they will keep them longer, but they may not. Please don’t forget them.

We will have the Memorial Garden team contact the funeral home and determine what is needed to assure safe storage of the ashes and memorial items.

5) UUCA has members who are architects and/or construction experts. Why are we not tapping this expertise instead of hiring outside firms?

The Design team (Pam Kilmer, Lee Cook, Bill Mengel, Kevin Stephenson, Hoke Kimball) is a team packed with exactly that type of expertise. All of these people serve on a volunteer basis. Designing a building, drawing all of the construction documents, building the structure to specifications, and assuring that quality construction is accomplished must be done by full time professionals. We are in excellent hands with highly qualified architects and construction managers guided by our in-house experts.

6) Suggest having minimal events at 2650 like potlucks or something other than tours for people to see and enjoy (the) visit to 2650 N. Druid Hills.

We are limited to what type of party we can have at 2650 N. Druid Hills now. We have winterized the building to help prevent any weather related damage from occurring during cold temperatures. The winterizing included installing new cut-off valves and drain valves, blowing the lines, and putting antifreeze into the drain traps. We cannot use the water lines, so there are no restroom facilities. We also are not paying for water to the building ($500/month) and heating gas to help conserve costs.

7) Time to talk to Shelter Rock and UUA about a Veech loan/grant. To me Option 3 or 4 are only viable ones.

The fundraising team will be exploring all options to help us obtain grants or loans in addition to a capital campaign.

8) A capital campaign is essential if we want to “grow.”

A capital campaign feasibility study is part of the financing plan.

9) Can Option 3 be broken down to include the sanctuary rebuild and the parking lot- but not all of the renovations to the classroom building? Something between Options 2 and 3?

Option 3 was value engineered to reduce the costs by about $500,000. As the admin (or classroom) building is the elder of the two buildings, it needs a lot of help in the form of insulation, heating system, railings, elevator, and electrical just to get to occupancy code level. So the difference between 2 and 3 is mostly in the modification to the sanctuary, reasonable improvements to upgrade the electricity and heating/cooling systems, and the site plan changes.

10) What is amount of dollars with the Endowment Fund?

The Endowment Fund’s latest quarter balance can be found here:


The Endowment Fund’s Board of Trustees will also be working with the finance feasibility team.

11) I support an option that would not build a new parking lot and would pay for insulation of roof and walls in the N Druid Hills building. Two large parking lots are ½ mile away and could be utilized for members who are fit and want exercise. We have a hiking club and lots of members with Fitbits.

Hopefully with a good fundraising campaign, we will not have to choose between parking and insulation. Even with 160 parking spaces in Options 3, 4, 5, we may need our “Fitbit” crew to park at other locations and walk to UUCA.

12) How was the estimate cost of renovation OFF by 100%?

We did an analysis for the Board on exactly that question. There is a multi-faceted explanation. Detail 1) For Option 3, the placement of the accessible parking in the site plans is under the main power pole for the building. We talked to engineers about getting the pole moved and putting our electrical service underground so that we could put covered parking over the accessible slots. With the moving of the pole, the administration building would require new panels and an almost 100% rewire. The engineers quoted $1,000,000 for that change. We did some value engineering to get that down a bit, but moving the pole is quite costly. Detail 2) The administration building would require some electrical rewiring to bring it up to code because of the addition of new electrical requirements, in particular the addition of the elevator. We did not budget for the rewiring in the original estimates. Detail 3) The replacement of the windows in the administration building was underestimated. We used residential windows, which is not a good long term option per the architects. Detail 4) The modification of the sanctuary space to more circular requires removal of more walls and redesign of the ceiling than was originally estimated.

13) Did the architects make a recommendation of which option we should take?

The architects are doing a good job waiting and listening for us to decide.

14) Why is there not an option for continuing in this space or renting similar space?

That would be an option that should be addressed. Continuing at the Tree House is not a good long term solution for us. We do need more space to grow our children’s and youth RE. We also regularly fill all the chairs during a Sunday service.

15) Do we have any idea how much congregations with similar number of pledging units have raised in a capital campaign?

That is a great question that will be part of the report from the financing feasibility study. Stay tuned.

16) Do we have an estimate of the monthly cost of a mortgage per $100,000 of mortgage?

The financing feasibility team will be addressing that question, as a mortgage is one of the options for financing.

17) Are sight lines going to be incorporated?

The sanctuary will have sight lines taken into consideration for whichever new space we choose. Additional large monitors may help provide improved viewing too.

18) Monitors are too small that we have now to see from the back.

These are the largest affordable monitors that we can install in a rented space

19) Monitors are too low to see over heads of people.

Due to the height of the ceilings in the Tree House the monitors are as high as they can go.

20) Seating needs to be sloped or pulpit raised to see speaker.

One of the design criteria that we have to consider for a new sanctuary is Universal Accessibility. Sloped seating and raised pulpits limit access for some people. We hope to provide improved audio visual support to help us meet the Universal Accessibility guidelines.

21) Current seating arrangement leads to disappointing experience.

We will forward this concern to the Worship Team

22) Has Wabi-sabi design theory been considered in the new building renovation?

We will talk to our architects about this concept.

23) What was our mortgage in 1966 when we moved into Cliff Valley Way in today’s dollars?

UUCA in 1960 raised about $4,000,000 to build at Cliff Valley Way. Putting this into an inflation calculator equates to about $33,000,000 in 2018.

24) Do we have “if we build it, they will come” mentality?

The property at 2650 N Druid Hills provides a wonderful neighborhood opportunity for us that we did not have at 1911 Cliff Valley Way. This is one of the reasons that selling the property is not really an option. A North Druid Hills address is an excellent piece of real estate just waiting for us.

25) Will Option 3 require 2 services still?

The number of seats in Option 3 is almost the same number of seats that we have in the Tree House (and had at Cliff Valley Way). More than likely we would need two services.

26) Why do we need a chapel?

In Option 4, the design offers a new sanctuary, a chapel, and new administration offices. The chapel concept comes both from the Facilities Study and our floor plan at 1911 Cliff Valley Way. The chapel would have seating for about 100. It would provide space for children’s chapel, memorial services, meditation services, small weddings, etc. If Option 4 is chosen, the sanctuary serves [seats?] 400 and the chapel 100 giving us holiday seating of at least 500. This is also a feature that makes the facility more rentable to outside organizations.

27) Functional physical plan should not be sacrificed for aesthetic consideration—heating, AC, plumbing, etc. are just as important.

We agree. Option 2 is not a great option using that criteria. We would not be able to upgrade the heating and air from the current system. All other options do upgrade. We are looking at a Variable Refrigerant Flow type of system that excels in heat recovery and independent temperatures for each room (versus a zone system).

28) We have worked in the past with capital fund raising people-will they be considered?

The finance feasibility team will be exploring those options.

29) We have participated in listening circles before and felt that it did not matter. We were not listened to-what makes you think that listening circles will work this time?

We are listening. This is a time for us to hear what the congregation is thinking about the Options. Please try with us again.

30) Can we stay in the Tree House indefinitely?

We have told the landlords that we want to potentially continue past November 2019. The initial feedback from the Landlord has been positive, but due to the differing timelines we will not be able to finalize any plans for a lease extension or new lease until we have decided which option will be built.Everyone does not see a problem to continue at this time. The one caveat is that we must be good tenants. We have had some complaints about us and we need to correct those so that they want to keep us.

31) July 2018 minutes indicate a 9 month lease with option to renew 6 additional months- to Oct or Nov 2019. Then what?

See above response.

32) If an option that costs more than what we have available (more than 2,858,500) do you plan to have a capital fundraising campaign or a loan or…?

The finance feasibility team will be exploring all of our options.

33) What are the pros and cons of each?

The pros and cons will be part of the report from the finance feasibility team. Stay tuned.

34) Many of us had no paper copy. Really a problem.

We were not sure how many people would attend the congregational meeting. In the interest of saving trees and toner, we printed a limited set of copies knowing that the presentation would be available electronically soon after the meeting.

35) The beautiful interiors shown do not appear to be “average Atlanta building costs.” How will this affect the estimates given?

The square foot cost estimates were given to us by Choate and CCCA. It will be a balancing act to maintain the budget.

36) As a member since 1960, I have confidence that UUCA will not only survive, it will thrive.

We agree!!

37) Thanks for an illuminating report. Does Phoenix Project have an option it prefers?

We are listening and do not want to influence the conversation at this time.

38) Do any of the options have provision for a circular, bowl design for the sanctuary like we had at Cliff Valley? I really liked not having to strain to see over people’s heads or hats.

Our architects heard us in regards to the circular sanctuary (see Option 3). The tricky part is making sure that we meet Universal Accessibility too. We will balance this with audio visual support.

39) We have a 4 person committee of artists who want to move on the replacement of the stained glass window. We need a preliminary meeting with architects and designers.

Once an option is decided upon, we will be ready to engage that wonderful team.

40) I see on the opening slide that 5 construction companies were vetted and 3 shortlisted. It states the reasons for choosing Choate. But did this process of choosing among these companies include alternative bids, cost and time estimates? If so, what were some of the other bids? If not, why not?

The 5 Construction Management companies were chosen due to their track record and willingness to work with a project this size. Each of these companies is a Construction Management firm which is more than just a Construction company. They manage the process from beginning to end: costs, sub-contractors, quality, permitting, and timelines. Each of these companies was given a Design/Development drawing and spec package. In addition, they were given an on-site tour of the buildings. They prepared bid packages that were given to the PP Steering and Design teams. Those bids were evaluated and three companies were shortlisted to be interviewed by the PP Steering and Design teams. The architects were present to answer questions but did not influence the choice. Choate Interiors was chosen due to their Preconstruction support, ability to readily access sub-contractors for all phases of the project (demolition, site work, building work), track record of quality work, and diversity of the team. All three teams had similar cost estimates. Choate Interiors had the best Preconstruction price.

41) Is there a detailed estimate for each option?

There are only detailed estimates for the preliminary designs of Option 2 and 3. Options 4 and 5 are based on cost per square foot.

42) Does UUCA own 100% of the Work Product from Choate?

At this time we only have Design Development products from CCCA. We own those.

43) What are the non-discretionary contingencies for each Option? (I was told $500K by a Board Member and that they are not discretionary by a PP Team Leader)

We value engineered Option 3 down by about $500,000. Option 2 has no discretionary contingencies as it is considered the bare minimum. Options 4 and 5 are based on square footage so do not have enough details to determine discretionary/non-discretionary.

44) Is $2000 per week included in each option for an on-site UUCA representative? (Essential IMO)

We will not be paying for an on-site representative. With modern access by cell phone to all necessary parties, we do not see a need for this expense.

45) At what point will Choate submit a Firm Lump Sum Price and schedule for the selected option?

We do not have a date set for this as it is Option dependent. Stay tuned.

46) Will we have Liquidated Damages of say $10K per full week if Choate is late on their schedule?

The final contract with the construction management firm is a long way from being negotiated. Stay tuned.

47) Who will be the Sole UUCA representative to answer Choate in a timely manner when Choate calls requesting a Change Order due to unknowns and latent defects in the existing structures?

The PP Steering team and Design teams will be integral to supporting Choate with guidance from the architects and engineers. The final signatory is our Senior Minister.

48) There is a suggestion at the very end of the presentation materials under What’s Next that the congregation will be voting on this, but it is only a suggestion. Is there in fact a vote planned?

After the finance feasibility study is completed the board will evaluate and determine which of the options to present to the congregation. The congregation will vote as required by the by-laws on an up-down vote of the option presented by the board.


Dave Spierman dpuucaphoenix@gmail.com

DeAnn Peterson dsphoenix@gmail.com