The Search For a New Church Location
After a lengthy, thorough search for a centrally located site with enough space at a price we could afford, the Land Acquisition Committee located the property on the NE corner of Santa Rosa Road and Woodcreek Road in Camarillo. With a price tag of $1,775,000.00, it was a bit of a stretch for us, but after deliberations and authorization by the Community, the land was purchased on August 25, 2004. Even with a fairly large down payment, we took on a five-year note for $ 1,157,000 at a rate of 5 % . Due to the generous pledges and gifts from our Community, we paid off the total balance on May 19, 2008.
What will we Build?
Long before the land was purchased, the Long Range Planning Committee began thinking about just what our new church would be like. Early on it was decided that, unlike many new church projects, we would call upon all members of our Community to help in the formulation of the size and makeup of our new St. Demetrios Church complex. To that end, the LR Planning Committee members began to explore possibilities by talking to the people of our parish and to people from other Greek Orthodox parishes.
In April of 2006, the LRP Committee mailed a survey form to each family in the parish. The form listed 19 basic functional requirements for the new church and asked for comments. Only 19 responses came back, but from that the LRP Committee was able to ascertain the most important features desired.
Planning and Designing Our New Church
In January of 2007 the Parish Council established the Project Development and Implementation Committee and charged it with guiding the Community through the Design, Development and Construction Phases of our new church complex.
It was clear from the start that what we build will be a combination of what we would like, what the Orthodox Church requires, what the City of Camarillo will accept and what the building codes require. All of these will be tempered by what we can afford.
After a competitive interview of 8 potential architectural firms (all of whom met minimum requirements), the PDI Committee recommended the selection Heathcote and Associates. The Community approved Heathcote and Associates at a General Assembly Meeting on August 26, 2007. Heathcote had the best combination of talent, depth and experience, plus they had the advantage of being a local firm, familiar with local problems and experienced in dealing with the City of Camarillo.
Although Heathcote hadn’t designed an Orthodox Church before, he took a personal interest in learning our customs and even attended Liturgy on a couple of occasions. He visited several other Greek Orthodox churches, took measurements of significant features and talked with some of our parish members. Meanwhile, members of the PDI Committee continued to solicit parishioner inputs.
Primary Design Consideration
If we were going to the trouble and expense to build a new church, it should be able to accommodate a growing parish. Therefore, a fundamental requirement for the new church complex was that it should accommodate twice as many parishioners as we do in the current church. The pews for the current church can comfortably seat 140 people. Thus we should initially target a seating capacity of 280 – 300 people in our new church. The remaining specifications would be developed on that basis.
After being brought on board (under contract), Heathcote prepared a preliminary layout and presented it to the PDI Committee for review on November 7, 2007.
At the Parish General Assembly on November 18, 2007, the parishioners debated the pros and cons of Heathcote’s preliminary layout of the church complex campus and discussed at length which building in the complex should be built first. At that time, the Assembly voted to give the church building top priority.
During December of 2007 the PDI Committee and Fr. Gary continued to bring the Community into the design effort by scheduling meetings wherein parishioners could meet with Gary Heathcote and Fr. Gary to express their specific desires and concerns regarding the new church complex. Only eight families took advantage of the 40 available private meetings, however a number of good suggestions were received.
The decision having been made to build the church building first, Heathcote proceeded with preliminary design efforts and generated a set of layouts for the site and the church (including 3 color Elevations). These were presented to the PDI Committee and then to the Parish Council on February 11, 2008.
Copies of the preliminary layouts were posted in the Parish Hall for everyone to see.
Metropolitan Design Review
At a meeting with the Metropolitan and his staff on March 27, 2008, the preliminary design met with general overall approval. Several “suggestions” for changes were made. These included increasing the height and prominence of the dome, condensing the size of the Sanctuary, adding more seats to the Nave and eliminating excess doorways in the Narthex. Those changes were passed along to Heathcote by way of a Change Order.
Cost Analysis & Green Review
At the PDI Committee meeting on April 10, 2008, possible “Green” considerations were reviewed. Although many showed merit, it was decided that they would be addressed during the preparation of construction drawings.
A preliminary cost analysis of the church building program indicated that the estimated costs would be approximately $ 2 million for the site work and another $ 4 to 4 1⁄2 million for the church.
1. Site Preparation and Development 2. Admin./Classroom Building 3. Fellowship Hall 4. Church
$1,400,000 1,900,000 3,500,000 4,750,000
(1.&2., $3,300,000) (1.&3., 4,900,000) (1.&4., 6,150,000)
The Master Plan
At the General Assembly of May 18, 2008, Heathcote was authorized to generate preliminary plans for the Fellowship Hall and the Admin./Classroom Building and put together a Master Plan for presentation to the City. It was also decided that the Fellowship Hall should include space for a regulation size basketball court.
A Necessary Change of Plans is Brought to Light
When the PDI Committee met on July 31, 2008, Heathcote presented trial preliminary designs for a multi-purpose Fellowship Hall and a multi-purpose Admin./Classroom Building.
To allow the committee to have some sense of financial considerations, the Chairman summarized the “best guess” estimates for each portion of the overall project:
Assuming that parishioners would want to move onto the new site at the earliest opportunity, it was clear that the cheapest combination phase was the only way to achieve that goal. Realizing that the “1. & 2.” combination was the way we would have to proceed, Heathcote was requested to generate a couple of possible building layouts for consideration: one with a pre-school housed on the first floor and a chapel on the second floor; the second without a pre- school and with the chapel on the first floor.
On August 13, the PDI Committee met to review the two Admin./Classroom building layouts requested. After discussion of the pros and cons, the following motions were made and passed:
1.That the committee formally recommend to the Parish Council that a multi- purpose Admin./Classroom Building with a Chapel be the first building erected on the new property. This would require a reversal of the decision made at the last General Assembly.
2.That provisions for a pre-school be eliminated from the requirements because regulations would lead to significant increases in the building size to permit that function.
3.To void the previously approved motion (July 31) placing the chapel on the second floor.
It was decided that Heathcote would be invited to the next PDI Committee meeting on August 26th so that we could jointly work out the design details together. This meeting was fruitful and a number of changes were agreed to that would basically incorporate all of our functional needs under one roof so we can operate as we have until the church (Phase 2) is built.
Informing the Community
In an ongoing effort to keep the Community informed of what was going on, an open invitation was issued for parishioners to attend the PDI Committee meeting on October 16, 2008. The meeting was well attended by over 40 parishioners. The Chairman briefly explained the reasons for the recommended change in direction to build the Admin./ Classroom Building first. The anticipated cost of $ 6.15 million for the church first option far exceeded our capabilities. Similarly, an anticipated cost of $4.9 million for a Fellowship Hall option was too far beyond our means. The only feasible approach was to come up with a workable design for a multi-purpose Admin./ Classroom structure with a chapel and a kitchen, and which could encompass all of our functions under one roof. The resultant plan was displayed at the meeting.
Although there were still many details to be worked out, the big advantages were:
We will be on our new land. We will have adequate space, with room to grow. We will have plenty of parking. We will have room for the festival. It is deemed financially doable.
The meeting was opened for questions from the Community and a number of inquiries were fielded and answered to the satisfaction of the person asking. A “straw vote” was then called for to see if the Community supported the change in direction. The result was overwhelmingly in favor.
Community Approval of Admin./Classroom Building & Site Prep as Phase 1
The decision to build the Admin. / Classroom Building first was formally approved at the General Assembly of February 8, 2009.
Meanwhile, on February 2nd, The PDI Committee selected the name “St. Demetrios Agape Center” to be applied to the Phase 1 building. At this same meeting it was decided that we recommend that Fr. Anthony Scott be hired to perform a study regarding our community’s potential for raising funds. This initial study came at a cost of $28,000.
On March 3, 2009, the PDI Committee interviewed two Civil Engineering firms and later selected DTR Engineering to perform the Civil Engineering work on our project.
By May of 2009, work on the Master Plan and Preliminary design of the Agape Center were proceeding.
Review of Preliminary Grading Plan
On May 26, 2009, the PDI Committee met in the offices of Gary Heathcote to review the Preliminary Grading Plan, which was presented by the civil engineer. Notable features included:
a. Maintain natural drainage as much as possible. b. Site will be graded to a gentle slope downward from west to east. (About 3,000 cubic
feet of soil will be moved). c. Pads for the three building will have a vertical separation of about 2 feet. d. A retaining wall will be required for most of the NW property line.
e. Drainage gutter of the parking lot and driveways will be along the south edge instead of in the center. This was a city request to mitigate contamination of runoff water from automobile fluids.
f. Sewers will exit the property along Santa Rosa Road and water will be brought in from the supply line beneath Woodcreek Road.
g. Underground drainage will be required where surface drainage is not possible or advisable.
Gary Heathcote provided attendees with the latest Preliminary design Plans for the site and buildings. He announced that the Preliminary Design for the overall plan and Phase 1 would be presented to the Camarillo Planning Commission on May 29, 2009. Because of preliminary contacts by the architect and civil engineer, no problems were anticipated.
A review of our financial position at this time indicated that we were reasonably in line with the contract. Architects usually charge approximately 10% of the total project costs (about $340,000 in our case), so except for some additional charges for renderings we requested, we were running only slightly above estimates up to entitlements submission. Spaced payments were being made according to the work completed.
Submission of Master Plan and Preliminary Design to Planning Commission for Conditional Use Permit
At 11am on May 29th, the required Planning Documents for the Master Plan and Phase 1 were submitted to the Planning Commission for review and approval. Charges for this review were: $10,043, plus an additional $1,285
On July 14, 2009, a meeting was held at City Hall for the purpose of reviewing a list of conditions that had to be satisfied before they could approve our plans.
Tree Report – The city required a survey of our property by an arborist to evaluate the number of existing “specimen” trees that would be removed during construction and to make a determination of how many replacement trees would be required. Landmark Design was hired at a cost of $900. An additional $830 had to be paid later.
Festival Parking Plan – We had to come up with a planfor off-site overflow parking during the festival. Chris Pulos made arrangements for such parking with Camarillo High School.
Geology Study and Report – They wanted an extensive update of our 2004 report. This work was accomplished at a cost of $18,850.15.
On October 19, 2010, the Planning Commission held open hearings on our project. At the end of the meeting the Commission voted 5 to 0 to approve our project.
Design Development and Preparation of the Construction Drawings
Once we had the entitlements taken care of, we authorized Heathcote to proceed to the next step, Design Development and the generation of Construction Drawings
The Planning Commission had been mainly concerned with the external attributes of the project. Now we would be fine tuning the functional parts of the “picture”, the internal and external details that had to satisfy our specific needs and desires, while still satisfying the Building and Safety Department and the Department of Public Works, who would have to approve the construction drawings. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would have a major role to play.
The ADA is basically a good thing. However, in a few places it can be “over done.” For instance: Although it is impossible for a mobility limited priest or acolyte to perform his duties during Liturgy, the Solea and the Sanctuary must be wheel chair accessible. Thus we had to include ramps in the design of the chapel. This will also hold true in the future church design.
The architect proceeded to generate the development and construction drawings for the site, the Agape Center and the Arbor/Patio. On June 8, 2011, the drawings (less the Landscape design) was submitted to the Ventura County Fire Dept. ($632 fee paid), the Camarillo Planning Commission ($7,786 fee paid), and the Camarillo Dept. of Building and Safety (fee included in the above).
On July 7, 2011 the Landscape Design was submitted to the Camarillo Planning Commission ($300 fee paid) and all of the drawings, including the Landscape Design, were submitted to the Camarillo Dept. of Public Works ($17,728.95 fee paid).
The above reviews resulted in a number of required changes to the design and the corrected drawings were resubmitted to the respective City offices on December 2, 2011.
The following pages describe the resultant design of the new St. Demetrios Greek Oorothodox Church Agape Center and church campus.
NOT TO SCALE
7 Layout and Arrangement of the Agape Center
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
The overall footprint (outside measurements) of the building will be 50’ x 92’, with additional extensions for the sanctuary on the east end. The first floor area will be 4,897 sq. ft.
and the second floor area will be 3,105 sq. ft., for a total area of 8,002 sq. ft. This size was established early on to keep the cost within our limits based on an estimated construction cost of $275 per sq. ft.
The architect came up with a very good basic layout and, after minor modifications requested by the PDI Committee, the building contains all of the elements we need within the size constraints. In some respects we will be a little “tight”, but one must remember that when the future Church and Fellowship Hall are built, the major demands on space will shift to those buildings.
The First Level
Narthex BOne enters the Narthex and the building through the double doors on the north side. The eastern half of the first level contains the large chapel in which we will have our Liturgies and other religious services until the Church is built.
The nave A layout seats 148 people comfortably, with room for another 28 without excessive crowding. Seating for an additional 41-55 people will be available in the balcony (accessible by elevator).
The wall separating the Narthex from the Nave will have extensive glass areas to permit maximum viewing of the services from the Narthex. The candle stand will be located in the Narthex, immediately to the left of the double doors to the Nave.
A state-of-the art audio system will enable all to hear the Liturgy clearly in the Nave, the Narthex and the balcony.
Secretary’s OfficeThe secretary’s office is located off the hallway on the opposite side of the Narthex from the Chapel. A sliding glass window will allow communication with the secretary without having to enter the office.
Priest’s OfficeThe priest’s office is directly across the hall from the secretary’s office.
1st Level ClassroomA classroom on the first level next to the priest’s office will also have provisions for a bookkeeper work station and limited cupboard storage of supplies.
RestroomsRestrooms are located off the Narthex near the front entrance.
KitchenA somewhat larger kitchen C , capable of utilizing all of our current equipment will be located in the northwest corner of the first level. It will be able to handle our indoor and outdoor functions, including the festival. Storage spaceDwill be available between the hall and the kitchen. A commercial dishwasher will be a welcome addition.
Access to the 2nd Level via an elevator or stairway will be at the west end of the building.
The small area outside the south end of the Narthex will house the electrical panels, communication equipment and the fire riser.
10 The Second Level
The main functions of the Agape Center’s second level will be a large assembly areaF , that will serve as our “fellowship hall” and Sunday School classroom space, similar to our current fellowship hall. The eastern portion of the large room E is the balcony of the chapel and can be separated from the rest of the room by a folding wall. This wall can be opened for large banquet functions.
For banquet seating, with the folding wall in place, there is space for 12 rounds of 8 (96 people), and with the wall removed, there is space for 16 rounds of 8 (128 people). A little crowding could possibly increase this capacity to 150.
Conference RoomThe large roomGin the northwest corner is a multipurpose room in which there will be a service area (adjacent to the double doors) with an ice machine, a coffee maker, a microwave oven and a small sink. There is adequate space to store the banquet tables and chairs and still have room for meetings using our large conference table (or similarly sized table).
PhiloptochosThe room at the west end of the upper levelH, will be the storage room for the Philoptochos Society
StorageThe small storage room next to the elevator can be used for Sunday School supplies.
RestroomsThere are 2 restrooms on this level.
The Arbor / Patio
Opposite the front doors to the Agape Center and a few yards away is the Arbor / Patio. With dimensions of 48’ x 60’, it has approximately 1,000 sq. ft. more area than the previous patio.
Just west of the patio there will be provisions for natural gas to be supplied to outdoor barbeque grills.
There are provisions for parking 121 cars, 3 of which are “accessible” and 2 of which are van accessible. Bicycle racks will be provided.
11 Our Building Schedule
Our construction schedule hinges on the raising of money.
Sources are:Building Fund cash on hand. Existing Building Fund pledges to be paid.
New Pledges from the Capital Campaign Sale of church building on Skyway Drive Bank Loan
Clearly, the more cash we can pull together right up front is best. For every million dollars of a 30 year loan, even at current rates, our payment would be about $8,000 per month, or $96,000 per year. Remember, that’s money over and above our normal operating expenses.
Our biggest plus is our festival, which we can reasonably expect to bring in $50,000 + in profits. Our other excellent fund raiser is the golf tournament, which brings in about $ 15,000- $20,000.
Right now (January of 2012), we at a critical point in our building program. If we do not start building by December 31, 2012, a whole new set of building codes will take effect and we will have to go back into the design phase again. Also, as the economy slowly improves, construction costs will rise . . . how steeply, no one knows. Therefore, if at all possible, it behooves us to “strike while the iron is hot.”
Jump on the bandwagon and together we can achieve our goal.
John Costello Parishioner, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.