PRC Update

PRC Update

Property Redevelopment Report
Our Church Property Redevelopment Committee (PRC) continues its investigative work on redevelopment and keeping congregants engaged through News Notes, vodcasts or other forms of communications.

In this blog we provide the following:

  • Next steps on the work of the PRC 
  • Highlights from the past three Property Redevelopment Vodcasts to refresh everyone’s memory on the project

Next Steps on the Work of the PRC

Currently, the PRC is evaluating how our ministry can be supported by a re-imagined use of our space. In this process we are exploring a range of options, offering our own ideas, and receiving input from design and costing professionals. This work takes time and thoughtful reflection by the committee. Our goal in this part of our work is to set out the range of possibilities for the use of our space now and in the future, to understand the impact for ministry each option presents, and to identify the financial consequences in each case keeping our goals in mind. We hope to share the results of this work with all congregants in the coming months.

There is lots to do and to understand. Our work continues on behalf of all of us. We will be patient, thoughtful, and look forward to the time when we can all assemble to discover our way forward together. There is no particular pressure for decisions in this matter. We know that a critical step for all of us lies ahead at some point. That is, to find the best opportunities to meet, discuss, and decide whether and how we move forward together with confidence. In FBCH’s faith community, a hallmark of our successful steps forward has been our transparent sharing of good information, opportunity to debate and reach consensus, and then our determined decisions taken together. The pandemic is an impediment to this process, and so we must be patient. The timeline to decisions on development is therefore a fluid one. Meantime, take a look at what we’ve been up to in this summary.


Highlights from previous
Property Redevelopment Committee (PRC) vodcasts

To refresh everyone’s memory on the mandate and the direction of our Church Property Redevelopment Committee, following are highlights from previous Vodcasts. 

To view the complete vodcasts, please click on the following links:
Vodcast Episode One
Vodcast Episode Two
Vodcast Episode Three

Vodcast 1 David Dexter, Co-chair, PRC
Our Committee was tasked with unlocking value from our assets. Our property is a large physical asset. Intuitively, we felt there was development opportunity. Looking into this is a significant task, and so we’ve consulted with CBRE, one of Canada’s leading real estate advisory firms.

We have reviewed multiple redevelopment options from CBRE and it was determined that the option which best suits our needs is a Land Lease Agreement that includes the Parsonage land and the Christian Education Building land. 

Vodcast 1 Andrew Cranmer, CBRE
The land lease option is a mechanism that allows the church to retain ownership of its lands and at the same time derive the financial benefit from the development of the property by the tenant/developers. This can provide the church with a continuous revenue stream for the duration of the lease in support of its Ministry and Mission into the future. It also gives options to future generations who will still own the lands and ultimately at the end of the lease, the building thereon.

Vodcast 2 Dianne Kokesh PRC, Opening remarks
As part of our Church leadership work and following one of our Guiding Statements, the Property Redevelopment Committee is exploring various revenue streams to help ensure a financially sustainable ministry. The Committee is currently assessing the impacts of a land lease agreement for some of our church property. The context here is ‘How could a land lease for a development help support the financial side of our ministries here at First Baptist going forward?’

Vodcast 2 Clyde Evans, Treasurer, PRC
We have a solid balance sheet and a loyal, dedicated membership. However, over the last 3 years we have encountered “operating losses”. Operating revenues are less than our operating expenses.

The source of our problem is declining donations. This trend has been developing for a number of years. Some of this decline in donations has been offset by increased investment income, by rentals and cost control. 

The Financial Gap is simply the expression we are using in our discussions to describe the excess of operating expenses over operating revenues at future points in time – in other words – Losses. It has no technical definition.  

The Gap is an estimate/a projection/or forecast, that incorporates a number of assumptions about, future revenues, expenses, and the changes in how we operate. There are many unknowns of course.

This calculation, as just described, indicates losses (the financial gap) in the magnitude of $150,000 or even more per year emerging within the next 10 years or so.

Over time any continuing losses are ultimately unsustainable.

Certainly, anything even close to the magnitude of the gap could not be managed for long.

Vodcast 2 David Dexter Co-Chair, PRC
Our development would be some form of multi-residential housing. Locally, we have 1% or less vacancy rates, and this is in light of record-breaking development activity over the last few years. Further, rental rates and homes prices have risen steadily, though there has been an impact on the single-family resale market with new sales down 50% in April this year, and there are predictions of a cooling in pricing. We’ll see. Halifax is a very attractive City for many new residents generally, and our particular spot on Oxford Street is a very desirable location for housing. We still need development for housing, and this has not changed.  Real Estate advisory firms, like CBRE expect ongoing development activity as Halifax continues to grow and as the pandemic recedes.

Vodcast 2 David Dexter
Essentially, we have two pieces of property as most of us are familiar with, the parsonage and the church itself.

Our committee began with exploring all options from selling both the sites to various redevelopment ideas. The option we are looking hardest at, as the highest and best use for our church family, is a development on the parsonage and Christian Education wing lands, while retaining our original building and sanctuary. Here’s (Screen shot of massing study concept) a look at the scope of development we are talking about. This is concept only, no design elements here

Vodcast 2 Jim Stanley – Co-chair, PRC
Over the next three or four years we need a substantial financial fix to stabilize our current situation and none of the alternatives* holds as much promise as the property redevelopment project.

*Grow our operational giving (donations); put on a major fund-raising campaign to grow our endowments; cut expenses further; and generate more rental income  

On the other hand, over the longer term, we will need to pursue each of these opportunities systematically and together they hold promise to contribute to our future work and to our capacity to carry out mission and ministries that meet the needs of our Community and allow us to seek God’s will for us.

Vodcast 3- Dianne Kokesh, Opening remarks
While the big question is what does ministry look like now and in the future, the financial opportunity of redevelopment has prompted the question:

 If we lose the CE wing, how will we? or will we? replace those spaces? There are multiple options to explore–from making do with the space we have, to renovating and perhaps adding on to existing space, or incorporating space within a new development. 

Vodcast 3- Kathy Schwartzentruber, Co-chair, Diaconate, PRC
This is our challenge and opportunity in the coming years – how do we provide opportunities and access to worship including in our sanctuary – how can we re-imagine our resources to let us contribute effectively to the work of love in our place and time. And how can we redevelop our own space in a way that is flexible, enabling future generations space to respond and do ministry in ways that we cannot imagine today. If we get this right, we can hope that our decisions today will serve this congregation well for another 50-70 years. What a wonderful gift that would be to the future.

Vodcast 3-Rusty Edwards, Senior Minister, PRC
The point is, redevelopment of our buildings gives us an opportunity to think about the importance of making human connection and how people are making these types of connections today. What if our building was designed specifically around these needs.

Vodcast 3-Kathy Schwartzentruber
It is true, the building is not our ministry and mission. But it is also true that our building is a home for so much of what we do now and hope to do in the years to come. Designing a space that is accessible and welcoming and that intentionally supports the goals our congregation has laid out in our Guiding Statements is an exciting venture and one that, I believe, can help us live into the hopes of the congregation. 

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