Project Phoenix FAQ
Ask Project Phoenix FAQ
ADDITIONS TO PROJECT PHOENIX FAQ FROM 12-17- 17 TOWN HALL
Have we considered sharing space with another congregation, like Northwest?
Yes, we have considered this option, but the logistics make this difficult.
Is there a timetable for CHOA taking down this building? Could we rent from CHOA?
There is a provision in the sales contract that might allow us to stay here past the September 15
deadline for vacating the building. However, the cost would be $45,000/month and would require the
approval of CHOA. In addition, it is likely that the parking lot will become a construction site.
Have we considered renting space at a synagogue?
We did think about this possibility, but Sundays are a very busy day at synagogues.
Have we considered renting from a Seventh Day Adventist Church? They don’t use their facilities on Sundays.
Because Seventh Day Adventist positions on LGBTQ persons and on same-sex marriage are in conflict
with UU positions and values, renting from a Seventh Day Adventist Church is not an acceptable option.
What happens to the Memorial Garden if we have to rent space?
Fischer Funeral Care (an establishment with which the Georgia Memorial Society works) has agreed to
move the cremains from the UUCA columbarium to their place of business where they will be safely
stored along with all the plaques until UUCA has a permanent location with a new columbarium. Boxes
will be provided for the ashes that need a container, and care will be taken with labeling and
transporting of ashes and the plaques.
The Memorial Garden Team is in the process of digging up and re-potting perennials from the Memorial
Garden. These plants will be stored at UUCA and maintained until we are ready to move. In the event
we move to a temporary location, a UUCA member who has space in her family garden will adopt the
plants until we have a permanent home.
What are the incentives to move out of 1911 Cliff Valley Way early, and what is the current situation in regard to an early move?
We would get $45,000/month to move out early. If we are successful in getting a property currently
under consideration, we will do well to get out by the September 15, 2018, deadline.
Why didn’t we plan ahead to get out of 1911 Cliff Valley Way so that we could collect the bonus funds available for vacating the property early?We are not having to pay rent now, which would be the case if we had already vacated. Should we get a
property currently under consideration, we still face 6 months of due diligence and another month for
closing. If we lease property we will have to move twice, which increases our overall cost.
How do costs for this building (maintenance, mortgage, utilities, etc.) compare to the estimated $30,000 to $45,000 per month cost of renting space?
TBD: Analysis from staff pending.
If we rent from a school, would we rent both auditorium (for worship services) and classroom space?
Yes. DeKalb County Schools rents auditorium, gym, and classroom space during non-school hours. Our
estimate from their price list is about $400/Sunday to rent an auditorium and classrooms for 3 hours on
Is the Still Waters Church property (2650 N. Druid Hills Road) in unincorporated DeKalb County or in Brookhaven?
It is in unincorporated DeKalb County.
Could space in the education building at the Still Waters Church be rented out to generate income?
Yes, at some point, to entities similar to those who rent space at 1911 Cliff Valley Way.
What is the age of the Still Waters buildings?
The original 2-story building was constructed about 45 years ago. The newer sanctuary was built in
When will we know about the status of the Still Waters LOI?
The LOI was accepted. A Purchase and Sale Agreement is being written. More information will be
coming soon, including a timeline/sequence of events as we move through the process.
Can we make our position as a bidder more attractive by building on any connections we have with the United Methodist Church (UMC), such as similar beliefs in community?
The bid in the LOI was aggressive. Information included in the LOI identified areas where we have
commonality with the UMC.
Is there a way to use the surrounding homeowners to put pressure on the UMC?
Pressure is not needed at this point.
Do we know from architects a reasonable cost for a new sanctuary at the Still Waters property? The Design Team and CDH (our architects) are currently reviewing the onsite needs of the property.
Are we still looking for other properties?
Yes. New information is coming in and properties are considered as they are identified.
After the Letter of Intent (LOI) for the Kensington Office Park (4151 Memorial Drive) was sent we
discovered that the property wouldn’t fit our needs. Could we have anticipated that?
No. The LOI was needed to get access to rent rolls and other records necessary to do the financial
analysis that resulted in this determination.
What is the acreage at 1911 Cliff Valley Way?
Was the CHOA master plan for their properties (including 1911 Cliff Valley Way) approved by the City of Brookhaven?
If we invested the $8 million capital realized from the sale of 1911 Cliff Valley Way we could generate enough to cover the cost of renting and still be in a conservative investment posture. Can you comment on this?
Investing $8 million to generate the $30,000/month required would need a heck of an investment tool.
We need to keep our funds liquid, and a lot of investments require tying up funds for a period of time.
We have looked at options to be more aggressive, but we have to be conservative in order to have the
liquidity to move quickly. If the situation changes, we will reevaluate.
There are many ways to invest that are safe. We can invest the $2 million in funds that don’t have to
be used immediately and make 6% on very safe investments.
We put the question of how best to manage the funds realized from the sale to two different financial
advisers, asking for recommendations given our objectives, ranked in order:
(1) Liquidity of funds
(2) Safety/security of funds
(3) Investment in people and institutions we can trust
(4) Return on investment.
Some investments available to individuals are not available to institutions. The adviser that we are using
has not suggested another investment approach at this time.
Process Going Forward
Most churches are busy only a few hours a week. A hospital complex needs a conference center, which is busy Monday-Friday but not on the weekend. Could we negotiate with CHOA for a joint tenancy arrangement, since they want to be part of the community?
UUCA is a very busy place every day of the week. We would find scheduling all of our activities very
difficult to do by sharing space with CHOA.
We need to use this time to build community and to build consensus. We will have to compromise.
The Listening Circles helped but we need more opportunity for small group discussions.
There will be additional Listening Circles next year. We are also planning Q&A and Town Hall sessions in January and February.
The Celebration Team is conducting video interviews (Story Corps UUCA) that capture memories and
thoughts about the building, including the Sanctuary, the Chapel, and the Social Hall. The Team is
chaired by Kay Johnson. The resulting video will be produced by Michael Dangerfield and Pasha
Souvorin. Everyone is welcome to participate. A sign-up sheet will be available early next year. Anyone
who has pictures of 1911 Cliff Valley Way is requested to scan them and send them to the Celebration
Other community building planned activities include a New Year’s Eve party at UUCA, a party in the
spring, and a ceremony and ritual for leaving our current building (planned by Nina West). We are not
celebrating just leaving the building but our love for each other.
If things don’t work out with a current property under consideration, could we take a step back and
think more about what we really want? We should defer celebrations until we have a sense of where
we are going. These things can happen concurrently. We can’t stop looking and planning. Even as we process through the Still Waters transaction, we need to be seeking lease options just in case the deal falls through.
Consolidated Q&A from the Ask Project Phoenix events held September 24, 27, and October 3, 2017
The questions are grouped by topic for easier browsing: Our search criteria, Selecting and approving a property, Moving, and General Q&A.
Our Search Criteria
What is the scorecard?
To see examples of some of the properties we have scored and declined to pursue, see: Scorecard Results of Evaluated Properties.
What is the score for our current building at 1911 Cliff Valley Way?
Fairly low because of accessibility problems, lack of parking, and the crime score.
What were the highest priorities from the survey?
The Scorecard reflects the highest priorities. If you look at the “weight” column for each item scored for a property, you can see the relative importance. A high weight number, such as 10, indicates the most importance, and a lower weight number, such as 1, reflects less relative importance, based on the results of the survey.
As we evaluate properties, how important is a playground space for the children?
Very important. This is one of the items we score using our scorecard, every time we consider a property.
Would we reconsider the search criteria if we can’t find properties that meet the criteria?
Our current criteria are already fairly broad, and the longer we look, the broader our criteria get.
Will we still have a sanctuary in the round?
It depends on what property we get.
How much acreage do we need?
We need a minimum of 3.5 acres to accommodate adequate parking, green space, and our sanctuary and offices. Depending on the property and whether it’s a single building or multi-building site, we might need up to 5 acres.
Are there any properties in Decatur, Midtown, downtown?
None that we have found that we can afford.
I heard the Rehoboth church is back on the market. Would we consider it?
Rehoboth Presbyterian is not available. The property has been under contract for 8+ months, and is awaiting finalization of several permits, including a Land Disturbance Permit, which is one of the final steps toward development.
Selecting and approving a property
Will there be an opportunity for the congregation to weigh in on various properties before one is selected?
The congregation will have the opportunity to vote Yes or No on one property that we recommend. It will have been vetted, have due diligence done, have been pre-approved by board, and will follow preinformation provided to the congregation. Voting the property down will mean we have to lease.
With the rules of UUCA regarding advance notice for a meeting and voting—will that work in a fastpaced real estate deal?
Any seller will be aware throughout the negotiations that we are a congregation, and that we need to vote on any purchase deal.
What obligations do we have if multiple letters of intent are accepted?
None. There is no obligation until a purchase and sale are approved. Letters of intent are non-binding by definition.
Are the properties presented during these presentations the only ones under consideration?
They are the most likely, but the search is currently ongoing. NOTE: Because of the sensitivity of the negotiation and offer process, congregants are asked not to discuss any of the potential properties outside of UUCA.
Have we compared the cost of long term leasing vs. purchasing?
Yes. A long-term lease (5+ years) will require finding a building that is 25,000-30,000 square feet, and will incur costs for us to adapt the building for our use as a congregational facility. The costs will range from $450,000 – $650,000 per year, plus improvements. Revenue from interest on our capital is currently less than $100,000 annually.
Why have we not discussed our vision as we did when we built the new wing?
Our vision was discussed at length during the facilities study and several congregational surveys. We are not, however, finished with that discussion. We are planning an event, to be held soon, like the one we held several weeks ago to discuss racism. We’ll have small groups of people gather together to have a discussion of our hopes and dreams for the future.
When will the small group event to share our visions for the future be held?
Stay tuned, and watch the Weekly Update, The City, and order of service inserts. That’s where we will publicize the events before they happen.
When the pews were last replaced we sold the fabric as pillows. Can we do the same with the current fabric for pews?
Probably, unless we find a use for them in the new location.
Interim/Temporary Location: have we explored hotels?
Can we move by 3/31/18? a) Yes, and we have discovered that renting space in hotels is cost-prohibitive – as much as $4,000 per day. b) It is too soon to say if we can move by March 31. We’ll constantly be revisiting that question as we move forward.
Are we going to look for the box(es) of Braille hymnal sheets that were reportedly purchased in 2002 or 2003? Absolutely. We will be going through every nook and cranny of UUCA as we prepare to move. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
There aren’t any restaurants adjacent to the Kensington Office Park (4151 Memorial Drive) property. Won’t that be a problem for congregants who like to go to lunch after services?
Downtown Decatur, which has more than 20 restaurants available, is 3 miles from 4151 Memorial Drive. Drive time to Decatur restaurants would take about 9 minutes. Downtown Avondale Estates, with more than 10 restaurants, is 1.3 miles from 4151 Memorial Drive. It would take about 4 minutes to drive there.
Access to the Still Waters (2650 N. Druid Hills Road) property appears to be a problem. N. Druid Hills Road is very busy, so turning left into or out of the property will be difficult. Also, it is not on a MARTA line.
While not on a train line, 2650 N.Druid Hills Road has a bus stop in front of it and is served by Bus No. 8, which goes from the Brookhaven MARTA Station to the Kensington MARTA Station (see MARTA bus map at http://www.itsmarta.com/uploadedFiles/SystemMap2017_w.pdf).
To address the turning left entry problem, we could consider hiring off-duty police for traffic assistance prior to and after services, as many metro area churches do.
What should I do if I want to ask a question or suggest a property for consideration?
Email ProjectPhoenix@uuca.org. When possible, responses will be provided in updates to this FAQ, so all congregants can benefit from the information.
What kind of feedback are you getting from the congregation?
Very positive, regarding possibilities. There have been many suggestions about properties, and our small group event, which is coming soon, will collect even more congregational input about thoughts and aspirations for our future.
What is causing the most anxiety?
The thing that troubles most people is that we don’t yet know where we’re going to move. We expect to know more by late October, and progress will be communicated to the congregation.