Renovations to Presbyterian Center estimated at $2.4 million

It will cost an estimated $2.4 million to renovate the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s office building in downtown Louisville to get ready for a hybrid 2022 General Assembly. The plan is for the assembly to hold committee meetings in Louisville from June 20-July 3, 2022 and plenary sessions online June 18 and July 5-9, 2022.

The Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky

The PC(USA), A Corporation board will consider a recommendation (P.102) giving an estimated project cost of $2.4 million, although that amount could change, during its May 19-20 meeting (held on Zoom).

“This is an estimated project budget,” the report states. “During the coming months the budget will be refined as work is done with the architect, structural and mechanical engineers, and the general contractor. Supply chain issues are also a concern and are very unpredictable. If the final project budget exceeds this estimate, the additional source of funds will be unrestricted reserves.”

The board of the A Corporation – which is the corporate entity of the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and provides administrative services to those agencies – is being asked to approve both the building renovation plan and the proposed funding plan, with a vote expected May 20. (Click here to read about the board’s February conversation about the proposed renovations.)

Of the $2.4 million budget (Project Estimate), nearly $1.6 million would go for construction costs on the center’s first floor, including:

  • $861,600 for conference and pre-function rooms, including spaces for assembly committees to meet;
  • $228,000 for a production studio;
  • $222,000 for a welcome center;
  • $147,600 for gender neutral and family restrooms on the first floor;
  • $51,800 for a food service and catering facility; and
  • $48,600 for a records center and print and copy center.

Other costs include $99,000 in architectural and professional fees; $252,000 in equipment for the catering kitchen and production studio; $177,000 in improvements to technology and security systems; and $168,000 for furniture.

To pay for the work:

  • The Office of the General Assembly would give about $478,600 from per capita funds to pay for the production center and its equipment.
  • Another $325,000 would come from the A Corporation’s capital reserves to pay for security and technology upgrades and the restroom expansion and renovations. “Additional gender-neutral restrooms will be programmed in future capital reserve budgets,” the report states.
  • About $1.6 million would come from unrestricted reserves, pending approval from the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board at the board’s July meeting. “Due to several unexpected gifts and better than anticipated investment performance in 2020, the unrestricted reserves stand at $19.3 million at the end of 2020” – higher than the $12.5 million emergency reserve required, the report states. “The PMAB would approve this advance at their July meeting, allowing critical work to begin during the summer. The unrestricted reserve will be replenished later in 2021.”
  • A question mark is listed for the amount that other PC(USA) agencies would contribute. “Having a Welcome Center area at the Presbyterian Center has been a request for many years,” as a way to provide visitors with information to about the denomination’s ministry, the report states. “It is likely that the Welcome Center will receive financial support from other agencies,” such as the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Investment and Loan Program, although “the contribution amount has not yet been determined.”

The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly has already voted to hold a hybrid General Assembly in 2022.

And J. Herbert Nelson, the PC(USA)’s stated clerk, has written a letter (Nelson Letter) to the A Corporation board in support of the proposal for building renovations. Nelson wrote that the conference center “does require substantial one-time investment coming from multiple sources. However, we believe that there is also opportunity for significant annual savings and even the possibility of income generation.”

The renovated building could provide space for local nonprofit groups to gather; for the PC(USA) to show hospitality to the community; and for General Assembly agencies, entities, committees and commissions to hold meetings, the letter states. Every PC(USA) group that meets there will “reduce meeting-related costs,” by reducing staff travel and housing expenses and because it often costs less to have meals catered at the Presbyterian Center than to eat in restaurants or hotels.

The letter also raises the possibility of marketing the space for use by groups meeting at nearby hotels and renting the production studio and equipment for use by outside groups.

Enhancing the capacity for hybrid meetings could reduce future travel costs for PC(USA) groups; allow broader participation in hybrid gatherings; and position the denomination to “withstand ongoing or new pandemic threats,” the letter states.

The letter also cites environmental benefits, including reducing the PC(USA)’s carbon footprint by having more hybrid meetings and less travel, and the need to make some needed updates to the building the PC(USA) has used for 33 years — including updating the security systems and creating restrooms that align with the denomination’s commitment to diversity and equity.

The letter refers to Phase 1 of improvements at the Presbyterian Center — creating the conference center on the first floor of the building.

It also refers to a Phase 2, with no cost estimate given — which will “allow PC(USA) staff to consolidate on fewer floors” and to be more adaptable “to new and emerging work patterns,” possibly with some staff members working remotely at least some of the time. The space that would be freed up could be rented out to tenants, or be used as an incubator for “emerging not-for-profits and community ministry efforts,” the letter states.

At this meeting, the board also will be asked to approve the 2020 financial audit; welcome Ian Hall as the A Corporation’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer; and elect new leadership, with a recommendation that Heidi Bolt become the board’s co-chair for a two-year term to start July 1.