BFF Background Resources

BFF Logo

Summary of BFF History

The Building for the Future (BFF) Team

BFF Committee and Consultant List

BFF Committee and Consultants Packet


BFF Organization and Documents

Integration Team

Integration Team Graphic

Financial Reconciliation August 2015

Financial Stewardship of the Building for Our Future Project

Green Building / Sustainability Framework

BFF Steering Committee Meeting Minutes


How did we get to where we are now?


Contextual and Strategic Considerations


Reserve Study (2012)

This study explored the lifespan of our physical plant and its components, and the cost for upkeep over a span of time.

First Universalist Reserve Study


Facility Options Committee Report, June 2014


Through the Appreciative Inquiry process, from a Committee on Ministry survey of our congregation, and in Conversations with the Board, members of First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 E. Hampden Avenue, have consistently expressed concerns about the condition and functionality of our church building, originally built as Markham Hall/aka Colvin Commons, in 1958‐59; the Sanctuary, built as a separate building in 1968; Friendship Hall built to attach the two in 1982; and, finally, offices added, including a significant remodel of the Sanctuary in 1992‐93. One of the “Dreams” in the Appreciative Inquiry Strategic Plan (March 2009) stated: “First Universalist will build a beautiful facility that incorporates input from our congregation and is designed to support our active and dynamic community with an architecture that reflects our values and invites growth.”

The 2012 Committee on Ministry survey, (summarized by Don Bacon, long‐time church member and DU faculty), concluded from data collected that “The physical facilities at First Universalist stand out as the least satisfying aspect and the highest priority for improvement, with over half (52%) of all respondents identifying facilities as a high priority for improvement.”

time member spoke eloquently to the need for the appearance of our church to better reflect the esteem in crowded feeling newcomers may experience is detrimental to their participation and, therefore, growth of the denomination. She has been active on Buildings and Grounds for years. In fact, it is widely accepted in church circles that the size of the facility may limit the ability of a church to grow in numbers, and that failure to provide space for additional participants in the church and its programs may even cause shrinkage of a congregation causing members to leave and go elsewhere.

First Universalist began exploration and deliberations over what could be done to address these concerns in 2012, when, chaired by Charlie Campbell, a committee consulted architects for solutions to the space problem; however, it became apparent at that time in the life of the church that a greater priority was hiring Assistant Minister Jeannie Shero, who has greatly influenced the involvement of many new and continuing members with her highly successful ministry to the  congregation as a whole.

In response to these and other expressions of interest in facility expansion and care, the Board of Trustees chartered a committee to explore our options.


A comprehensive document drafted by Spud Van de Water during church year 2012‐13, “Charge to the Facility Options Exploration Committee,” signed by Moderator Howard Roitman, stated that “…church leadership needs to have a better understanding of the fundamental options (e.g., sell, raze, [or] renovate…).” In addition, the Committee’s “charge” includes six other specific tasks, some of which have been addressed and others that will be undertaken in more depth before preliminary approval by the congregation.

Members of the Committee as currently constituted include: Howard Roitman, Chair; George Belsey; Phee Belsey, Secretary; John Bringenberg; Pete Christensen; Bill officio Copeland and Jeannie Shero.

For the purposes of this summary, the “fundamental options” as quoted above are our focus, more fully expressed as

1) Sell the current property and move to a new location;

2) Completely replace our building on its current site; or

3) Enhance our existing building. A description of each option follows.


Economic Factors. Our current location is zoned single‐family residential. As such, the only likely re‐use of the property would be for another church or a maximum of six residences. A real estate professional estimates that this would make our current property worth approximately $1.5 million to a potential developer. Under this scenario, we would need to find a new location. Our current building is approximately 18,000 sq. feet. We have asked a realtor who specializes in church properties to identify potential properties with a minimum of 28,000 square feet within five miles of our current location. Why have we set these criteria? The size criterion is based on what has been determined to be the demands of our church for additional space (which could also be met by enhancing our existing facility in its current location). The five mile criterion is based on the verified fact that nearly one half of our current members live within five miles of the church. Demographic research, commissioned through the church consulting firm Percept Group, produced as “Ministry Area Profile, 2012,” shows enormous potential to attract new members within a radius of the current location, particularly to the north, east, and west. The Committee will continue to review the market for properties that meet these criteria up to the time a final decision is made.

Other Reasons. We also note that, economics aside, there are other compelling reasons to stay in the current location: The adjacent park and playground are wonderful amenities for us. There is tremendous visibility for our church from Hampden and Colorado Avenues; at least 56,000 vehicles a day pass our building (according to CDOT). A significant number of visitors report that they noticed us from driving by. While we could use more parking, we actually have much more than most urban churches, along with convenient street parking. We are well‐located in terms of minimal overlap with other UU churches. At this time, we do not believe it is feasible or desirable to sell and move to a new location.


As we move forward and engage an architect and structural engineer, we will be in a better position to test our current assumption that it makes more sense to enhance our current building than to scrape and build. We believe this is true for three important reasons:

  1. First, the comparative costs of a new building vs. enhancing the current one;
  2. The requirement that we address storm water detention and water quality. (The latter is likely to reduce available building area and increase cost.)
  3. We would also like to avoid or at least minimize the disruption of temporarily moving during demolition and new construction.

Frequently Asked Questions about using our current site

If we were to raze the current building and build a new church (or enhance the existing building): Many of us have questions about what we can and cannot do on our current property. Kyle Dalton and Rev. Kirk Loadman‐Copeland met with representatives of all relevant city departments to define what our constraints and opportunities are at the current location. Here is some of what they found out:

Can we use part of the park for expansion?

The simple answer is “no.” The city does no support giving up any city park land. It would be a long, expensive, and we believe ultimately futile exercise to attempt to acquire any of the park and would certainly engender bad feelings in our neighbors.

Aren’t we required to have more parking?

The simple answer here is “no.” We already have considerably more parking than is required by code. The code requirement is one off‐street parking space for every 2,000 sq. ft. of floor area in the building. One of our goals would be to preserve much of our current parking. We do not currently contemplate new construction over either of the existing parking lots, but it is possible that other requirements might result in our losing a small portion of our existing parking. It is really too early in the process to know.

What about the sewer line/alley/right of way/easement?

This is not a simple answer, but it is clear. There is a 15’ wide platted alley that continues from the existing alley in the north parking lot south to Hampden. Some of the landscaping in front of the church is in this platted alley. This is not an easement, but actually city-owned property, and the matter will be given due consideration in the unfolding plans.

Given the answers to these and other important financial and transitional operating considerations, the Committee does not endorse replacing the existing building on this site.


For economic and other reasons, briefly described above, the Committee considers this alternative to be the most realistic and viable. However, as many members of our congregation are aware, the existing building needs maintenance and repair. Therefore, we think it makes sense to think of this project in two phases.

Phase One would be intended to address our most pressing needs for maintenance and repair, term space enhancement and enlargement plans, which could include expanding Friendship Hall and the kitchen as well as enlarging meeting space for our many small group meetings. Details will be addressed by the architect and shared with the congregation when available, along with cost estimates.

The following specific maintenance tasks over the next three to five years have been provided by Kirk Loadman‐Copeland, from the November 22, 2012 “Replacement Reserve Analysis,” by Miller + Dodson Associates, Inc.:

  • New roof on Colvin Commons (over $100,000). This roof is way past its useful life and must bereplaced as soon as possible.
  • A new coating on the Sanctuary roof may run as much as $18,000.
  • The water heater for the kitchen, at the end of its useful life, will need to be replaced.
  • We have five furnaces that are near the end of their useful life. One has quit working and must be replaced immediately (the cost ranges between $4,300 and $5,800 depending on the model) and the rest must be replaced within three years for a total cost in the range of $25,000.
  • Several air conditioners are also at the end of their life.
  • The north parking lot must be replaced within five years.
  • Some amount of work will be required on the foundation in some areas.
  • Install new carpeting in the sanctuary, Friendship Hall, and anywhere else it is needed.

Phase Two would be a more significant expansion, likely including a second level over part of the building. Before any building is done, members’ contributions of seed money will enable further exploration of design details and cost estimates for both phases.