For nearly three years now our parish community has been working to have a mixed-use development on our property that would give us a new school, new church offices and meeting rooms, and a new rectory. This is big a project.
We were hoping that by Aug. 1 we would have a positive decision from the Diocese of Austin (DOA) Finance Council, the DOA board of priest consultors, and our Bishop, approving of this project. But this is taking longer than expected.
The size of this project is large. Actually, enormous. The cost of just our portion of the project (church offices, school and rectory) is roughly $40 million. The cost of construction and furnishing is also a large number, $400/square foot. It will take approximately thirty-five years of ground lease payments to pay off the debt from constructing our new buildings. These large numbers are, not surprisingly, giving the diocesan officials pause.
Since we are building in the midst of a booming urban landscape, the high cost is the reality of doing business here. If we were building this new facility in Bastrop, for example, it would be less. It is both a blessing and a curse that we are smack in the middle of one of the hottest development areas in the country.
Therefore, it is taking longer to get everyone comfortable with the idea. Everyone recognizes the need to do something. Are there ways to reduce costs? How do we reasonably prepare for our future as a congregation/community that serves and reaches out, and especially proclaims the good news of the Gospel on the Drag? It is complicated and complex.
Meanwhile, the developer with which we are working (Greystar) is also finding it’s taking longer to do their planning and due diligence. The bottom line is that the project is taking longer to plan and be approved than we had originally anticipated. This is not a surprise.
So now is the time to really PRAY for guidance and success in preparing for future evangelization. We all need to pray now for wisdom and perseverance. We need to pray for guidance to steer our parish/school community into a brighter future. We really need to pray.
I urge you, I encourage you, I implore you to pray for guidance and success for our proposed development project, in whatever form that may be. Pray that we are all wise enough to know what we need to do to enhance our mission in the future. Pray that we be courageous enough to act boldly to further our mission. Pray that we be attentive enough to the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we can move forward with confidence and hope. Keep praying! God bless!