Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Plan: Questions and Answers (1)

This blog by Dean Penny is the first in a series of Questions and Answers about the Campus Redevelopment plan.  See all entries here.

Q: Why are we just hearing about this now?

A: The cathedral has had a master plan for further development of its facilities since construction of the Nave began in the 1950s. The administration building was erected in 1968, marking the centenary of the founding of the parish. In 2002 a Master Plan committee was formed to determine how best to proceed with development.

In 2003, after a detailed internal study by the Dean’s Master Plan Review Committee, the Chapter and diocesan Standing Committee determined that the best and highest use of the valuable land under the administration building, the Olive parking lot, and the Park Chateau apartments, along with the lot at Nutmeg and Fifth Avenue, would be to work with a developer to create new housing on the site, while at the same time retaining square footage for diocesan and cathedral administration, parking, and programs. In order to do this, Chapter created a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) called Nutmeg and Olive LLC, with five managers elected to long terms by Chapter. Ownership of the land in question was transferred to the LLC. The purpose of the LLC was to have the freedom to negotiate with developers and explore options without the added complication of the way our denomination owns real property in trust for higher entities (the diocese and The Episcopal Church). Chapter approved the goals of the Master Plan. There was unanimous and enthusiastic support for all this at Cathedral and diocesan level.

From 2002 to 2005 there was extensive analysis of options, and a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued, resulting in a sale to a market developer in 2005. The design and approval (entitlement) process continued until 2009, when the developer backed out of the deal because market conditions were no longer optimal. From 2009 to 2011 the LLC pursued a site development permit process alone. Many Cathedral members remember attending meetings of the city council in support of the plan.

In 2012 the Nutmeg parcel alone was listed for sale and the sale closed in February 2014. This cleared the debt we had been carrying as a result of the approval process.

Throughout this time, since 2003, the LLC managers have met regularly and have discussed market conditions and development options. They have reported periodically to Chapter, and Chapter has renewed the staggered terms of the managers. However, for much of that time there has been little or nothing to report.

In late March 2015 the LLC became aware of the rising development market in Banker’s Hill. Brokers and developers are eager to purchase land in our neighborhood and prices are good. The LLC reported on this to Chapter in early May. Chapter decided to take some time to come up to speed and to create a cost benefit analysis before deciding whether to bless the LLC’s proposal to list the parcel for sale. It became clear to Chapter that, just as Chapter had been somewhat taken by surprise by the current proposal, so the congregation was also surprised. Although this plan has been “in the works” for a dozen years, it has been in abeyance for some time and, with the turnover in Cathedral membership and staff, there are significant numbers who have never really known about it or who have never absorbed the actuality of what the development might mean for our community.

At its June meeting Chapter decided that we need more time to educate and inform the congregation about the development options and possibilities under the Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Plan (formerly known as the Master Plan). Chapter will meet again on July 7 to discern if we are ready to move forward. Meanwhile, we hope to hear from everyone who has a question or a concern!

The Very Rev Penny Bridges


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