Monday, October 24, 2016

Fr. Chuck's Column, September 29, 2016

Where’s the renovation?? Well, I am happy to report it is just around the corner.
A large part of the delay has been getting approval and permits from the City of Austin Building Department. It turns out that one of the issues with the City is the lantern at the top of the tower. The City contends it violates the City’s Dark Sky Initiative. Our architects thought differently, but of course the City won. We have agreed to a compromise that we think will still achieve our goal of giving us a greater sense of presence on the Drag, even at night. There were also a few other minor issues, mostly about adding a few extra fire dampers, which we agreed to do. The revised set of drawings, with all that the City of Austin wanted, has been resubmitted about a week ago, and hopefully, when you read this, we will have in hand our approved and stamped plans so that we can go forward. YAY!  
On Wednesday, September 14, the St Austin Building Committee met with our architects from SixthRiver Architects, and our general contractor, Mr. Bob Rizzo of Rizzo Construction, Inc. He presented us with updated construction estimates. It has taken him a while to compile this, because all subcontractors are now very, very, very busy with construction in Austin. As you can tell by just counting the numbers of construction cranes you see all over the city, there is a tremendous amount of building going on. Some subcontractors are not interested in our project, which is rather involved and complicated, and not as big and lucrative as much of the other construction going on in our area. So it was a real chore for our general contractor to get accurate bid numbers.
However, he diligently pursued this and got us numbers in which we could have a reasonable level of confidence.  The number he got was $3,694,129. This number is for construction only. It does not include our costs for fund-raising, for the architects, for permitting and testing and other such expenses. However, it is pretty close to what we were planning on. It is, in fact, about $90,000 over what we had targeted at our Property Committee meeting back in March. The Building Committee, with input from the Finance Council (several members were also at this meeting), agreed we could go forward with this level of cost and gave the go-ahead to Rizzo Construction to begin. I expect that mobilization and scheduling will take four to six weeks and that actual work will begin by the end of October.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that this project will actually start in earnest! I am sure you will all be glad to see it begin as well.

We are fortunate that we have gone over our goal for fundraising. We have also been able to put our money to work for us in this time of planning and permitting. Once actual construction begins, and we can see it happening, we will conduct another mini campaign to invite those who did not join us in the first campaign to now do so (some like to wait and see if this is for real and is actually going to happen), invite parishioners who have come to our parish since the campaign to join us, and welcome anyone who wants to increase their commitment. This mini-campaign will most probably be in the new year.

THANK YOU all for your patience and understanding as we go through this complicated and involved process of renovation. Thank you especially for your prayers. Please keep them coming! 

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