“Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence.”
Jorge Luis Borges.
It has been a while since I have updated you on our building progress because there has not been much to report. The Vestry and Board of Trustees of St. Stephen’s School have authorized the Project Oversight Committee to continue to work with the architects, owner’s representative, and our builders to refine the design development plans so that construction drawings can begin in September 2023.
Several factors have impacted the pace of progress toward construction:
-The costs of construction have radically escalated since the pandemic, causing a significant gap in our funding model;
-The requirements of the School’s program have changed as a result of enrollment strategic priorities;
-The drop in enrollment and church attendance as a result of the pandemic decreased our fundraising base; both are now rebounding but the impact lingers.
The boards decided to explore the market for mixed-use development on our site. This was envisioned as a second phase of our master plan, originally; however, the funding gap sparked a desire to examine this possibility in the nearer term. A ground lease would provide an additional revenue stream for mission and ministry—and potentially help finance the Phase 1 building.
As a result, St. Stephen’s has been working with its Mission Real Estate Team to create a request for proposal for a developer to create a mixed-use structure on our site which will allow St. Stephen’s to share parking and some possible uses. Working with Mission Real Estate, HR&A has created a draft RFP which is now being circulated to our partners at Trinity Wall Street and diocesan staff. The Vestry and Board of Trustees will be considering this document and whether to pursue this course in August.
The School is in the process of hiring a new development director, a position which is being partly funded by the St. Stephen’s Endowment, to assist the School in annual fundraising, the community in planned giving, and another capital campaign. We will need to close our funding gap to complete our Phase 1 building, regardless of the completion of the mixed-use development deal.
The Church and School are on schedule to begin the construction documents in September 2023 and we anticipate breaking ground in 2024.
You will be hearing more about our progress as we move along the way. Our community is blessed with dedicated leaders and I want to acknowledge the diligence and wisdom of Dwight Wolf, Lucy Cockrum, John Siegel, Susan Hawes, Dan Maxell, Tyler Swanson, David Kelley, Tamala Singleton, Bill Wooton, Elizabeth McClintock, Esteban Tirado, Chris Nelson and Owen Treddenick who serve on the Project Oversight Committee and the Mission Real Estate Team.
The Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector