5701 Cameron Road Property FAQs
Sunday, December 9th: congregational vote
Sunday, December 16th: bring pledges and contributions forward during the service (this Sunday)
Monday, December 31st: initial contributions must be in
Why is finding a permanent home part of the plan and vision for COTC?
From the very beginning, Church of the Cross (COTC) has had a vision for being a parish church in and for Northeast Austin. By putting down roots and staking a place in this community we can begin to live more fully into that vision. As churches and other “third places” disappear from communities, it is vital to the mission of the church to have a physical presence in the wider community, a place where we can announce, embody, and demonstrate that God’s reign is at hand in the world and in Austin.
Here are some of the ways we see this particular property fitting into our core values:
Celebration - First of all, this space is conducive to our Anglican way of worship. There is beauty to the space and a clear sense of it being sacred and consecrated. The idea of continuing on in worship to God in a space that has already been devoted to that purpose is exciting for us. Beyond the existing structures and space, there is so much potential for using the space for celebration in ways that invite the wider community in to experience God’s goodness (e.g. community events, carnivals/bazaars, concerts/movies on the lawn).
Consolation - The location of this property invites us to see those who are hurting in northeast Austin, and then to respond in solidarity to that suffering by meeting needs--physical and spiritual (e.g. food pantry, clothes closet, addiction recovery groups, legal aid groups, space for nonprofits to meet). Having any property would increase our capacity for mid-week gatherings of all kinds, as well as the capacity to increase our partnerships with other non-profits, etc.
Transformation - Having a property that is available all week opens up more opportunities for us to grow together in our apprenticeship to Jesus and to invite others into the way of transformation into His likeness (e.g. Alpha, Sunday School, Morning/Evening Prayer, mid-week classes and catechesis). As this space is very visible in a high traffic area, embedded in a neighborhood while also accessible to major Austin arteries, there is the opportunity for more “front porch” gatherings and events that allow us to practice hospitality and invite others to consider the call of Jesus.
Participation - God is already present and active in the neighborhood and in the lives of the people in northeast Austin. We want to make this place an embassy for the kingdom, where we can carry forth the Good News, bringing it to bear on our lives, our homes and the people we meet. This property is right in the heart of a busy part of our city and has been used through the years as a blessing for the wider community in a variety of ways. We are excited to continue and deepen this work.
How will this affect parish life?
In the immediate future, this purchase won’t affect much of how we operate day-to-day. We will secure the property for the future now, while we prepare for the time when we take possession. This time will give us a chance to pray, dream, prepare, and begin the work that will continue when we take possession of the MLC (Messiah Lutheran Church) property at 5701 Cameron Road.
What new ministry opportunities will we have with a building of our own, and in this particular neighborhood?
There are so many potential opportunities in this neighborhood, and we will need your help to know where the Lord is leading us to serve the wider community and announce the coming of his kingdom. (Some nearby that immediately come to mind include Reagan HS, Pregnancy Resource Center, Austin Disaster Relief Network, and Any Baby Can.)
What about gentrification and development--what's going on around this building?
We are excited about the possibility of purchasing property that has existed as a church since 1957, and continuing on in the years to come. The Windsor Park Neighborhood Association (WPNA) has expressed a desire to see this space remain a church, as opposed to being developed. Any future construction on the site would involve consultation with the WPNA and our desire would be to be design and build in line with the aesthetic and values of the surrounding neighborhood, even as that neighborhood changes.
Do we expect to be on this property for a long time?
We intend this property to be the long-term home for COTC.
How we will we accommodate future growth?
We see this property as fitting with our vision, and future growth will need be accommodated through the addition of worship services (the current sanctuary size would necessitate moving to two services immediately upon moving in), and future church plants. The Fellowship Hall, classrooms, and office space can all accommodate our children’s ministry as it grows.
How much will this cost?
The purchase price is $1.25 million, with $200K due at closing. While MLC continues to worship in the building, COTC will pay $20K per year. Another $200K will be due once we take possession, in 2-5 years time. At that point, we plan to sell the Parish House to cover that amount and to contribute to the cost of potential renovations as well.
Does the cost of this property fit into our current budget?
The short answer is “yes”.
Here’s how it fits: The operating budget for the the upcoming year (2019) has planned savings of $42K already. We included a $30K savings line item in the budget for long term capital projects. In addition, earlier this year the loan for the Parish House was generously forgiven ($180K+) adding another $12K in savings to our operating budget. (We paid $1K / month to repay the PH loan.) We will pay $20K a year for the loan, leaving $20K in savings inside the current budget. We anticipate needing some of that money for maintenance as property owners.
We will hire an Associate Rector in 2019 as planned.
What immediate financial needs are there for us to do this?
We anticipate using $90,000 of our already accumulated savings toward the initial payment. We have $60,000 currently pledge from COTC leadership. This means at least another $50,000 must be raised from the congregation. We are asking everyone at COTC to prayerfully consider how they might sacrificially contribute to this end. While $50,000 represents the immediate need, we are hopeful and confident that we could raise more than that to cover the costs of the yearly ($20,000) payments and replenish our cash reserves. Raising $150,000 by January would make this possible. Any giving over the $50,000 will go directly toward the building.
What led us to make an offer on this property?
We have been in conversation with MLC over the course of the past year after seeing a “For Sale” sign on the corner. The Location Team, formed early in 2018, recommended this property as the primary target to consider as a long term home for COTC. The placement of this property in a busy and developing area of northeast Austin was very attractive as we consider being a community for others. The existence of structures that, though old, we might immediately utilize, and are already suited to worship, children’s formation, etc. along with the large plot of undeveloped land for future expansion all made this a particularly compelling opportunity.
Our contact with MLC first involved communicating informally with MLC’s church council and then more formally in the presence of their realtor and our lawyer. Through these times we learned about their values and desires for their future as a congregation and for the property itself. Meanwhile, the Parish Council spent time in prayer, fasting, and conversation, seeking the Lord’s will for the future of our community. This offer and contract represents the culmination of that long process. We have found an arrangement that honors the legacy of MLC, gives them time and space to end well, allows us to secure the property for the future at a fair price, while maintaining our financial and organizational health as we continue to grow and mature as a congregation.
Were other properties considered?
This property emerged very early in the process for the Location Team as they began the search, in January of 2018. The other option that the Location Team considered was how to make the Phillips Event Center long-term feasible for our growing congregation.
What is happening to the congregation that currently occupies this building?
MLC will continue to worship rent-free in the building for 2-5 years. We have extended to MLC the option to rent non-sanctuary worship space from us if they would like to continue meeting on the property site. The MLC congregation has served the Lord faithfully for decades at this location, and are entering the end of their life as a congregation. We have a chance to stand on the firm ground of their gospel presence, continuing their legacy and service to the surrounding community.
What is the timeline from now?
We are currently finalizing the sale contract, and expect to enter a 45-day option period at the end of this month. The 45-day period will be followed by 15 additional days to close the sale.
When will we move in?
According to the terms of the leaseback to MLC, the earliest we could take possession of the property will be two years after closing, approximately January 2021. But, there is a chance that we will not be able to take possession until five years after closing, or January 2024.
Why can’t we enter into the property right away? What are the ramifications of this?
We have recently renewed out lease with the PEC for 18 months, which will end in May of 2020. We will continue to worship at the PEC as long as the space works for our congregation, and until we are able to take possession of MLC. Obviously, if MLC chooses to worship for the full 5 years of the leaseback period, we may need to find a new worship space to rent in the interim, depending on a variety of factors.
What will be happening during the option period?
This activity will take place mostly behind the scene, but during the option period, COTC will have professionals conduct surveys and inspections on the building to assess its condition, discover any potential environmental issues that will need to be mitigated, and if necessary negotiate a price reduction on the property to partially or completely cover the costs of any repairs. During this time only Church of the Cross has the right to negotiate on this property.
How will the congregation be apprised of developments during the option period?
We will be sending out regular updates throughout the process via email. There will be a dedicated page on the website where we will post updates. We will also have a tour of the property on Saturday, December 1st from 9:30am-10:45am, with an informational meeting from 10:45am to 11:30am. On December 9th, the membership of COTC will have an opportunity to vote on whether to proceed with the purchase.
What are we committed to during the option?
We will put down $25K in earnest money at the beginning of the feasibility period, which will be non-refundable after 45 days, but will count towards the down payment upon purchase of the building.
Does the building need renovations?
The buildings currently on site were all built in the late 1950s and 1960s. We expect that upon our taking possession there will be deferred maintenance required. Additionally, our immediate goals for renovation would be making the classrooms and Fellowship Hall safe and fun for children, increasing the seating capacity of the sanctuary, and updating and improving the bathroom facilities. The property includes one acre of undeveloped land that will allow us to build new facilities or expand the current layout in the future; however, we anticipate the need to to renovate the current property somewhat upon taking possession and use the space until we decide if major expansion is feasible.
Who will make decisions about the modifications and aesthetic changes of the building?
A Property/Design Team will be formed in the months following closing to develop a masterplan for the space. This plan will serve as a guiding document for any and all renovations, changes, and repairs in the future. Once this plan is developed this team will also work as much as they can to take preparatory steps to have everything in place that we could quickly proceed with renovations upon taking possession. One of the advantages of the deal as it is laid out is that it allows for this work to take place while we continue worshipping at the PEC, preparing for moving in at 5701 Cameron Road.
What next steps do we need to take? How can I help?
Please pray for wisdom and favor as we move through the negotiation process in the next few weeks. Our desire is for an arrangement that blesses both COTC and MLC, and contributes to the furthering of the Gospel in northeast Austin. Pray also for the Lord’s leading of our congregation, and for discernment as we move through the option period. We are excited about the possibilities but also desire to move forward with prudence. Please also pray for us at COTC to faithfully fulfill our mission as a Gospel proclaiming community and for how that relates to this property.
Plan to come to our next information meeting/tour on December 1st. If you are a member plan to vote on December 9th. Please also engage with us if you have questions or concerns in the meantime. You can email email@example.com with any questions or feel free to speak with Peter or a member of the Parish Council.
Lastly, please prayerfully consider how you might contribute financially toward the purchase of this property. This is an endeavor that we all have the joy of participating in, however much we can. We anticipate collecting financial gifts toward this goal by December 31st.