Prairie’s Capital Campaign

Discussions to remodel Prairie’s main building have been going on for the past decade.

The congregation initially suffered “sticker shock,” but responded by rapidly increasing fundraising, including an extremely generous match from an anonymous donor.  We have now raised all but 6.6% of the new goal and need to raise only $28,000 in order to proceed without any debt or dipping into reserves, an amazing achievement for such a big project.

Background

Discussions about remodeling Prairie’s main building have been going on for the past decade.  There are architectural drawings from 2009 showing various configurations to expand the meeting room, foyer, and kitchen, as well as reshape space into offices and bathrooms. In 2013, when the house next door became available, Prairie bought and remodeled it beautifully to add meeting rooms, religious education spaces, and offices that we all use every day.  In the last few years once more, talk has increased as various upgrade and maintenance needs have become pressingly more apparent for the main building.

The Story Continues

In the Fall of 2016, a small informal group met with an architect to generally discuss rough plans and timelines. With the help of the Board, that group evolved into the Remodel Planning Group (RPG) in early Spring 2017, and was chaired by Rachel Long and Martin Arnold.  Additional RPG members include Heidi Hughes, Jim Lyne, Al Nettleton, Tom Robinson, and John Wunderlin, who asked for and received input from various committees and groups, including Religious Education, Housing and Property, Hospitality, and Programming to identify needs and build a wish list. 

With the Board’s blessing, RPG then discussed with Prairie members at the retreat and then the parish meeting in May 2017 to say, “This is how we are starting to think about remodeling.” By September, the RPG met with interested members to discuss the plans once more. Finally, at a special Parish meeting on October 1, the Board and RPG committee formally asked the Parish to proceed and authorized a modest amount to develop architectural plans. 

Cost Estimates

To make estimates of what the wish list would cost, the RPG met with architect Todd Barnett and Bauer Raether Builders, who are experienced in church renovations, for ballpark estimates.  Before finalizing plans, the RPG decided to fundraise to make sure the congregation was able and willing to fund the project. The rough estimate was $275,000 and Prairie rapidly raised over $300,000 in the Spring of 2018.

The RPG began planning in earnest and considered making changes that would address problems they hadn’t initially included, such as changing the downstairs entrance to reduce recurrent flooding and changing doorway widths in the RE space to comply with current ADA requirements. In the Fall of 2018, RPG presented its more detailed proposal with a more thorough estimate from the builder at a price tag $505,000.

The congregation initially suffered “sticker shock,” but responded by rapidly increasing fund raising, including an extremely generous match from an anonymous donor.  We have now raised all but 6.6% of the new goal and need to raise only $28,000 in order to proceed without any debt or dipping into reserves, an amazing achievement for such a big project.

What are the benefits of remodeling?

There has been a lot of discussion about all the potential benefits of remodeling. Some of the crucial improvements include living our beliefs to be welcoming, which include wheelchair and walker accessible bathrooms, doorways, and piano; gender neutral bathrooms; an improved sound system for hearing impaired folks, and more “green” living and dining with energy-efficient appliances and lighting.

In addition, Prairie plans improved opportunities for socializing and fellowship by expanding the foyer, as well as improving the quality of Sunday services through better technology, which includes a hanging projector and screen, and an up-to-date sound system.  “Traffic flow” and aesthetics are also important goals, so that Prairie is more inviting to guests, visitors, and members. And, last but not least, Prairie has already removed the asbestos ceiling and floors. 

What are the next steps of the remodeling project?

The Remodeling Planning Group is now working with our architect and builder to finalize the plans by June’s end and intends to get to work as soon as possible.  Our hope is that Prairie will be ready for occupancy by early winter 2020.  Prairie is now totally out of its main building and its first step has been asbestos removal from the ceiling and floor in the main meeting room.

The Board will do what is needed to cover any shortfall, including additional fundraising, applying for a chalice lighter grant, or securing a mortgage. Given the tremendous success in fundraising so far, Prairie hopes to raise the entire amount and avoid a mortgage. 

How can I make a pledge to the capital campaign?

It is exciting to ponder the results of a beautifully updated meeting room, foyer, kitchen, and religious education space, as well as the 3 bathrooms.  Prairie’s members know how nicely the remodel of the Annex turned out and know it can be done again for the main building.

Prairie’s continued financial support strengthens Prairie and provides the opportunity to make it the gathering place that it is today, to make new friends, to grow to know old friends better, and to challenge our thinking with thought provoking programs and discussions. 

Now Prairie is only $28,000 away from its $505,000 capital campaign goal. We are still collecting pledges to help us with remodeling our space.

Can you help Prairie meet its goal?

Contact Patty Stockdale at 608-271-8218 or finance@uuprairie.org with your gift or pledge today.