By Nanette Levin, Special to The Catholic Virginian

Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church (OLN) in Roanoke has taken some unusual approaches in how the leadership is handling renovation plans.

The work is slated to begin this summer, but communications strategies have been in place for years to alert all interested parties simultaneously about developments.

Technical project decisions are being implemented with a Team Build approach. Instead of engaging an architect to prepare material specifications that are sent out to a number of builders for bid, general contractors were approached to be responsible for all aspects of the project. This strategy is designed to foster collaborative answers among vendors for the best and most cost-effective solutions to project challenges. All estimated costs are guaranteed. If the expense sum is lower than anticipated, billed costs are reduced; if outlays are higher, the general contractor (GC) absorbs these charges. The GC collects a percentage of the total construction costs to supervise the job and cover overhead.

Major renovation plans on this $3.269 million project involve the nave and entry way. Intended work includes replacing the HVAC system, improving the lighting, installing new pews to create a better view of the altar from the assembly and making all areas of the church, including the sanctuary, handicapped accessible.

A heavy focus has been put on energy efficient solutions including the heat pumps, LED lighting and other upgrades expected to save money over time with lower environmental impact.

Tim Garrison is Chairman of the Renovation Committee. He notes that because things are changing quickly in industries like heating and air conditioning as technology improves, the Team Build approach allows savings with real-time decisions that can offer better equipment at lower costs than what might have been specified.

The construction will be funded through a combination of sources, including over $1.7 million raised through the Living Our Mission campaign and $1 million from the Church reserve account. The balance will be covered by a loan through the Diocese, which is expected to be paid off in five years or less through parish donations.

Garrison indicates this is the first time since 1978 any major renovation plans have been implemented at OLN, so he asserts they’re long overdue. He’s been with this project since it started three years ago and states, “The bottom line was enhancing the worship experience. If you can’t hear because you’re in a dead spot or are uncomfortable because you’re in a hot or cold spot or poor seat or can’t see the sanctuary because the nave is poorly designed, it’s going to affect how you perceive the service.”

One of the ways the Renovation Committee has fostered good communications is by making all feel equally important in the way announcements are made. Strategies include providing updates on plans and information to decision makers concurrently.

“I think that’s a critical part of this that everybody hears (ideas) at the same time so they’re all equals in the way we present it,” Garrison explains.

Everyone from mission leaders and staff to parishioners are being asked for their individual approval to take the project to Richmond for diocesan authorization.

Before any recommendations were presented, the Renovation Committee consulted with the 17 ministries, asking all to provide a list of top five priorities in how they use the nave. Once this information was collected, issues were prioritized.

Part of the way Garrison and his committee have created strong support is through audio visual productions. Garrison asserts this expenditure is designed to ensure all attending each of four Masses get the same message over a single weekend is a valuable expense to ensure inclusion and consistency. When the first film was shared, parishioners were given index cards and asked to comment on how they felt about the project. Ninety-four percent (750 people responded) supported the renovation plans.

He’s also designed sessions on development announcements that require input and approval to move forward to include all decision makers simultaneously, with joint meetings that involve the Parish Council, Finance Council and Church staff.

Leaders are currently focused on submitting completed plans to the Diocesan Building and Renovation Committee (BARC) for final approval. Work cannot proceed until diocesan regulations are met, including drawings, the financial analysis to justify the project and a draft of the General Contractor agreement.

Construction on the project is scheduled to start in June of 2017 and expected to be completed by January of 2018.

”It’s an investment in the future of our parish,” states Garrison.

A video of the plans, renderings and finishes will be presented to all attending Mass during a weekend after Easter, yet to be determined. Updates on developments and progress can be found on the Renovation Page at OLN-parish.com.