First Baptist Church has significant historic and architectural value in the city, being one of the oldest buildings in downtown Vancouver. Our existing church building, however, is at risk in the event of an earthquake. The Heart for the City Project will restore and seismically upgrade the historic church building, in which we will be able to carry out our mission for generations to come.
The proposed development will expand the community services the Church provides with approximately 45,000 square feet of additional purpose-built space and a new affordable rental building of approximately 50,000 square feet. The Church’s heritage restoration, the expansion of our space for various ministries, and the addition of a new affordable rental building will be constructed by Westbank. As part of our agreement, Westbank will also be constructing a market residential tower known as the Butterfly.
2. Where we are at regarding timelines
Westbank has advised us that the Development Permit is on schedule for September. The building permit and the demolition permit will likely be delayed until mid-October.
Demolition of the rear (red) door will likely take place sometime this fall depending on the city permit. We expect this to take place sometime in October or November. Also, by the end of September, the properties at 1023 (“Youth House”), 1025 (“Hobbit House”) and 1045 (“Rivendell”) Nelson will be part of the project and may be removed.
It is currently estimated that we will need to move out of the building in October 2020, for a period of approximately two years.
We are currently working with a number of different partners (including other churches) to determine a place for us to meet and worship during the Church construction. We will keep you informed as we move forward with confirming a location.
3. Impact on ministry
Our youth have moved out of the Youth House and will be using the Choir Room as their dedicated space on Sundays.
The Choir, therefore, has generously moved into Duncan Hall.
During the relocation of the exit stairwell, we will lose most of the shelter office, half the youth room (former choir room) and half of the preteens room, and the hallway outside these rooms. In addition, we will lose the two parking spaces adjacent to the red door (#13 & #14) and the three spaces next to the current excavation work. The fire exits on all levels near the exit stairwell cannot be used. We will be repositioning or changing them to reflect appropriate exits on all levels.
In the coming days, we will hear more about the timing of the excavation and site mobilization. We are hoping to retain the parking lot behind the church through Christmas. We will still have access to the Nelson Square parking lot on Sunday mornings. We are currently considering different options for drop-off and pick-up for those who require closer access to the building.
4. Financial update
The project is moving along as per the terms of the original agreement with Westbank. Both the housing market and building costs have changed dramatically since the original agreement was signed. Regardless of these changes, our agreement means that the church building will be restored and seismically upgraded, we will have a new affordable rental building, and a new residential tower will be built.
There are financial needs to complete the project, such as for furniture, fixtures and equipment. We will need to consider additional funding. The Project Oversight Committee formed by the Church Leadership Team is currently considering our options to meet these financial needs.
The Project Oversight Committee is also considering the on-going operating costs of a new, expanded church facility and investigating how we as a congregation will meet those operating needs once the project is complete. There are many exciting options to explore and, at this time, we expect that there will be additional revenue from a number of sources including the new rental building and a commercial retail unit.
5. Final Vision – The Building itself
The result of the project will be a fully restored, historic and seismically sound church building in which we will be able to carry out our mission in the heart of the city for decades to come. We will also be blessed with additional facilities, which will enable us to facilitate community programs, personal development services, affordable rental housing, child care and more. It is our prayer that our new home will be a blessing to our city and community for generations to come.
Additional Impacts to be included on the website and in a handout on Sept 23rd, 2018.
Changes during Exit Stairwell Relocation
- We will have 3-4 months of construction adjoining and inside the church building while Westbank constructs a temporary stairwell. When completed, the project will leave us with a new temporary stairwell which will serve our purposes before we move out of the building.
- During the 3-4 month time period when construction happens, we will be losing most of the shelter office, half the youth room (former choir room) and half the preteen room and the hallway outside these rooms as there will be plywood walls built around the construction workspace all the way from the upper level to the lower level.
- During the months of construction, the shelter office will not be usable. Hence the shelter staff will be relocating to another space.
- During the months of construction, the preteens room and youth room might need alternate heating arrangements as we are not sure whether a portion of our current heaters can be used.
- Once the new stairwell is built, we will regain some of the space as the stairwell will only take 1/3 of the space in the preteen room and youth room and 2/3 of the shelter office.
- The construction crew will be onsite and work from as early as 6:30 – 7:00 am to 4 pm, Mondays to Fridays, but will not make any noise before 7:30 am (City of Vancouver bylaw).
- On weekdays when the construction crew is at work, most of the tradespeople will park in the upper lot, and hence staff and congregants will be able to continue to park in the lower lot as needed. Please be mindful that parking will be somewhat scarce. Please use the church parking lot only during church-related activities.
- We are looking at alternate red door arrangements during the time that our current red door is out of commission. Work will only start once we have a new red door arrangement in place. It will most probably be the black door on the alleyway/lane.
- We will lose the two parking spaces adjacent to the red door (#13 & #14) and the three spaces next to the current excavation work, which will be closed off to abide by the city's safety bylaws as that will be the workspace of the construction crew.
- We are working on having security measures in place around the construction zone to ensure that the security of the church building is not compromised.
- The fire exits on all levels near the exit stairwell cannot be used. We will be repositioning or changing them to reflect appropriate exits on all levels.We will keep the congregation informed regarding the changes.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
About the Heart for the City Building Project as of September 2018
Where are we now regarding City regulation?
The City of Vancouver approved the rezoning application in December 2017. Westbank has received the preliminary Development permit in August 2018 and expect to receive the confirmation any time now. The demolition permit for the apartment buildings and houses is expected in October. The demolition and construction activities related to the Butterfly building will start immediately following receipt of the permit.
When will we have to move from our current church?
It is currently estimated that we will need to move out of the building in October 2020.
How is the project doing financially?
The project is moving along as per the terms of the original agreement with Westbank. Both the housing market and building costs have changed dramatically since the original agreement was signed. Regardless of these changes, our agreement means that our church building will be restored and seismically upgraded with additional space, we will have our new affordable rental building, and Westbank’s market residential tower known as the Butterfly will also be built. We have projected that funding will be needed for furniture, fixtures and equipment as well as increased operation and maintenance costs, with applicable taxes. The Project Oversight Committee is currently considering options to meet these needs and any other potential costs.
Where will the congregation move to?
We are currently working with a number of different partners (including other churches) to determine a place for us to meet and worship during the Church construction. We will provide more information as we move closer to confirming a location.
Why has there been such a delay?
The main reason for the delay has been the many different approvals and iterations that are required by the City of Vancouver. We have been working diligently with Westbank, to ensure that we have everything in place as we move ahead.
How may I help the church during this necessary and vital project transition phase?
We encourage you to pray for all those involved in the project to have the wisdom to carry out their respective duties. We encourage you to pray for the unity of our church family. We encourage you to provide practical feedback, including suggestions to relevant committees of the church, including the Church Leadership Team, Project Oversight Committee and Operating Committee. When necessary, we hope you will support the church financially so that we can efficiently complete this project.