Progress made at the future home of the UNY Conference
Demolition and construction has begun at the future UNY Conference Center at 7481 Henry Clay Blvd. in Liverpool. It is early, but this is the start of a whirlwind of activity that has been years in the making for the Upper New York Conference.
Rev. Barbara Brewer, Chair of the Design/Construction Oversight Team, is excited about the start of renovations at the new building. She said, “I am joyful over the prospect of seeing construction begin after months of careful planning. I anticipate a building coming alive again with people utilizing the many resources that will be provided to accommodate the daily activities that will derive fellowship and missional connection. So far, it has been a blessing working with the contractor, Irish-Millar and I am most grateful for their willingness to find affordable opportunities in bringing this building back to life.”
The Conference Trustees have worked diligently to purchase and begin renovations at the new Conference Center. The new, building will house all the conference offices and much more, including a chapel, large meeting spaces, Media Resources Center, Archives, Crossroads District Offices,and eventually a new Mission Central. More than just a new building, the Conference Center will be a place of hospitality, mission, and ministry. Most importantly, it will serve as a fantastic ministry resource for local churches across Upper New York.
As often is the case with large-scale building projects, this has been a long process with lots of moving pieces. It is difficult to assess the exact cost and an exact move date for projects like this. For example, negotiations over the building purchase were greatly extended following inspections that reviled there would be additional costs to make the building move-in ready. While it took a good deal of time, this resulted in substantial reductions to the purchase price. Conversely, renovations had some increased costs.
Rev. Rich Barling, the President of the Board of Trustees explained, “Our conference office remodel has started and we are hoping to have this done by the end of the year. The planning that has been done so far will make it possible for this location to become a very useful tool for our mission and ministry. As with any project of this size, there is no way of predicting every hidden cost. We are working diligently with the teams at King and King and Irish-Millar to control costs as they arise. We have had to identify more funds to complete the work and with the help of the staff at our conference office we have been able to make that happen.
As careful planning was done for the renovation project, several building systems including electric, heating and air conditioning, plumbing and additional site work, which were originally hoped to be able to be reused, were found in need of replacement. This has resulted in the need for additional funds to complete the project. With the changes in the scope of the renovations and remaining good stewards of this new conference center asset, in consultation with the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, and the Conference Leadership Team, the Trustees have approved up to $600,000 in additional monies from undesignated interest income of property related funds under the control and responsibility of The Board of Trustees to finish renovations. This creates a “not to exceed cost” for the total project of $4 million, which includes the purchase of the building, land (four acres) renovation of 27,305 square feet of the building, and all fees, permits and related costs. Of course, there will be continued efforts to find cost savings as renovations go on and adjustments will be made as needed or possible.
This will continue to be a long process with many moving pieces but the end is in sight and there is much more to follow now. Beginning with this update the Communications Team will be giving weekly updates in the Upper New York Conference Weekly Digest and in other Conference communications channels. These updates will vary from standalone photos to in-depth updates like this, but there should always be something to share moving forward. Now that active renovations have begun, the hope is for the whole Conference to be able to share in the process and excitement of this new tool for ministry in Upper New York being realized.
Trustee President Rev. Rich Barling summed up the feeling of the Conference Trustees and others involved in getting the Conference to this point, “We have a very good building and when it is done, it will be one that we can be proud of, that will provide a welcoming space for all to gather, train and build the Kingdom of God.”