Project Updates

This section of the UUFN website contains information about the movement towards a potential building project.  Click around the tabs above to learn about the history of the discussion, current updates and information about a potential capital campaign.

Widening the Circle - Congregation votes to move forward

Members of UUFN met on March 10 and voted to proceed with the capital campaign to fund the proposed building project.  The campaign will have a theme of Widening the Circle and will be a joint campaign with our annual campaign.  It will be launced on April 7

7/16/2024 Slides from Congregational Meeting

UUFN had a congregational meeting after church on July 14th where the Addition Design Team shared an update on the project. This included 3D visualizations of the design that was recently completed through our work with LHB Architects and an update on the timeline and remaining steps before construction begins. 

3/3/2024 Slides from Congregational Meeting

UUFN had a congregational meeting after church on February 25th where the Building Vision Team shared an update on the project. This included 3D visualizations of the proposed changes and a summary of pricing from 4 builders. The high level cost estimates ranged from

  • $300 - 600K for first floor (including AV/bathroom changes) 
  • $50 - 120K for basement
  • $20 - 50K for chancel changes

 The Building Vision Team will be transforming into an Addition Design Team and members were invited to express interest in joining the team. That group will begin working with an architect using the funds from the Jay Lindfors bequest that were approved for this purpose in January 2023. That work will provide designs that are needed to get detailed pricing and to guide short and/or long-term building changes. 

On March 10th, there will be a meeting regarding the fundraising needed to support this project. That meeting will include a congregational vote on whether or not to move forward with the capital campaign.  

2/14/2024    What is the status of planning for a building project?

The Building Vision Team and the Board of UUFN have been working over several months to define a proposed building addition.  They have been working on various concept iterations with Langer Construction and LHB Architects and have come up with a potential project that would help us address some of our needs at a price that we might be able to afford.  At a congregational meeting on February 11, Janet Scannell presented the history of planning for a building addition and showed a sketch of what is currently being considered and a timeline that will hopefully allow us to have our addition in place by the end of 2024. We'll stay on this timeline for as long as it continues to make sense. 

We now are in the process of talking with up to four local construction companies to get their preliminary quotes.  Whereas we found in August that the local companies were not ready to work with us because we didn't have a defined project, they are showing more interest now that we can be more specific about design. If you missed the meeting, you can view the sketch here and the powerpoint that was presented here. A recording of the meeting will be posted soon.  You can find a lot of other information about this project and our process on this page of the UUFN website.

Our process has led us to the realization that we were not going to be able to afford everything we could dream of .  We are focusing on a project which helps us with our most immediate needs:  more room for children, a better and handicap accessible office for Sara, a "crockpot kitchen" that is upstairs, more space for coffee hour and room for two dozen more chairs in the sanctuary.

There will be another congregational meeting on February 25 after the service.  At that point we'll be able to talk dollars after receiving preliminary quotes from additional contractors.  We'll also seek a vote from the congregation to engage in additional work with our architects to take the sketch to an actual design from which actual bids could be received.  That design work will happen in parallel with the fundraising process. Next will come small group discussion opportunities (between Feb. 26th and March 9th).

On March 10 there will be a vote as to whether the congregation would like to undertake a capital campaign to see how much money we could raise for the project.  That vote will not be a vote to build, but just a vote to raise money (in the form of pledges).  The vote to build will come after we know from the Capital Campaign how much money we have to work with and also what the final cost will be. The builder will provide an initial cost estimate in February, but the actual cost will come in ~May after the detailed design process is finished. The contractor(s) will do a final bid based on the final (and very specific) plans for the project. 

12/31/2023    What is the status of planning for a building project?

The Building Vision Team and the board of UUFN have been considering options for an expansion to our building. We have been working with Langer construction and LHB architects who have come up with various design concepts.

The most recent update was given by Janet Scannell at a congregational meeting on December 17. Those who attended heard a great summary of the process to date, the options that have been considered and the current thinking. If you missed the meeting, I highly recommend watching the video for it will bring you up to date. Link to recording. Link to slides.

Janet talked about some options that were either priced higher than we would be able to afford or would not substantially accomplish what we are looking for. A new more modest option that we could construct as a first phase is now under discussion and we are waiting for some ballpark pricing estimates from Langer construction.

The current thinking is that we would like to propose raising funds for the modest building addition this spring and hold on to the dream of a larger sanctuary addition at a later time. We are hoping that this would allow us to meet our most pressing needs quickly. Those top needs are more dedicated space for children, making coffee without carrying it upstairs, having an accessible office for our minister, and taking some pressure off our combined social and sanctuary space.

A sketch of this option will be presented in late January or early February, once we have confirmed that the pricing is in the right ballpark for us. The proposed project would have potential additions and subtractions which we could adapt, depending on how fundraising went. It would be up to the congregation to vote to conduct a capital campaign to raise the funds for the project. This capital campaign is projected to be held beginning in March combined with our annual campaign for member pledges.

12/20/2023: On December 17th, UUFN held an information session about the work with the architects over the past few months. After sharing some background for those who are new to UUFN, the Building Vision Group shared the first 3 designs and an update on current direction of a kitchen/office addition to the south. During the upcoming design finalizing and cost estimating, the team will also develop "add and deduct" pricing options to share with the congregation in January/February. Slides available here.  

10/21/2023:  We have retained Langer Construction and LHB Architects to review our prior design ideas and create  concept designs for building expansion. They will provide options that allow us to create low, medium, and high cost scenarios for our financial feasibility study (scheduled for January 2024). We are planning to hold a congregational meeting in December to review the design possibilities with the congregation. 

Here is the presentation we did in April which gives context on prior thinking around the imbalances between our congregational needs and limitations of our current space. You can also see the presentation and the report provided by church consultant Rachel Maxwell from her visit in May. 

August 10th Update:
How is money for a building project raised?

It would be absolutely lovely if we could just find someone to give us a huge grant! We may be able to get some very small grants such as for solar panels, or a Chalice Lighters grant from the UUA MidAmerica Region. We will certainly go for those. We could decide to take on a small mortgage to supplement what we can raise, but a mortgage too large is not a good idea as it impacts the money available for programming. The reality is that most of the money needs to come from congregants through pledges in a special capital campaign.

Our congregation’s annual budget is mostly supported by the pledges we make each year. A capital campaign would ask for an additional pledge that could be paid over a period of three years. The amount of money that congregants can afford to pledge varies tremendously as our financial situations vary. There are some people who can reach into their “other pot of money” that they don’t need for living expenses and they can make a gift from that. But many don’t have another “pot of money”. The money they have is the money that comes each month through working, retirement or Social Security. And so as people look at what they might be able to give, there will be tremendous variation. We would need gifts of all sizes.

First we will need to develop some plans as to what we might want to build. Then the congregation could decide to have a capital campaign. And based on that it could make a decision whether to build and how much.

August 3rd Update:
What are we looking for in a building addition?

The Building Vision Team has sent out a Request for Proposals seeking a firm that could work with us in designing and eventually building the addition. The extent of what we might build will depend on how much money we could raise. But before it is time to raise money we need to have congregational discussion of what it is we are hoping for. Our plan is to have a preliminary design prepared for discussion this fall. This design will change based on feedback and eventually based on a clear understanding of what money we have.

One of our needs is to have space that can be used for socializing – potlucks, receptions, coffee hour for example. We also want to have a real kitchen and have it close to the social space. We’ve talked about having an unfinished basement with electrical rough-in that the congregation could finish room by room as money, energy and need arises. This space could greatly expand religious education space as well as provide office space or small meeting rooms. From this contractor we’d need to have the roofs solar ready and there are various programs we can use to install solar panels. There are many other considerations, such as heating and cooling, acoustics, environmental efficiency, floor surfaces and storage space.