915 N. Main Opportunity: More Information

RESOURCES TO READ AND WATCH

Special Congregational Meeting April 21

Church Council has approved the following motion to be put forth to members of the congregation for a vote on Sunday, April 21, at Noon in Fellowship Hall:

“The congregation of First Congregational Church of Hudson, Ohio, votes to affirm the transfer of title of the building and property at 915 N. Main Street in Akron, from Trinity United Church of Christ to a newly formed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.“

PLEASE NOTE:

  • The new 501(c)(3) organization shall have a governing board comprised of at least 44% FCCH members.
  • The purpose of the new 501(c)(3) organization is to carry out the mission of transforming 915 N. Main into a community hub in the heart of North Hill, designed to meet the wants and needs of the residents of the community.

All formal members of the church will be invited to vote on this motion.

Members are invited to attend an information session prior to the vote (dates and times listed in next section).

Information Sessions April 14, 15 & 16

Want to learn more about 915 N. Main and ask questions of those involved in the Due Diligence process? Attend one of these info sessions. No advance registration necessary.

  • Sunday, April 14, 12 p.m. Noon, Fellowship Hall
  • Monday, April 15, 12 p.m. Noon, Zoom (Link will be emailed to all members)
  • Tuesday, April 16, 6 p.m., Fellowship Hall
915 N. Main Opportunity Newsletter
January 28, 2024 PowerPoint Presentation

What is the 915 N. Main Opportunity?

At the Annual Congregational Budget Meeting on January 28, 2024, Rev. Peter Wiley and members of the 915 N. Main Due Diligence Team presented the congregation with information about the 915 N. Main opportunity. A newsletter with information about the project was recently sent to homes.

An electronic version of the newsletter, the PowerPoint presentation shared at the January 28 meeting, and video clips of the January 28 meeting are all available below.

In addition, keep scrolling for detailed Qs and As about the Vision & Scope, Financial and Legal issues, and Next Steps for this project.

We encourage you to attend a Roundtable Discussion about this project where you'll have the opportunity to hear more information and ask questions. Roundtable Discussions are scheduled for March 10 at Noon in Fellowship Hall and March 12 at 6 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.

Please email 915nmain@hudsonucc.org with questions. Or call the Church Office at 330-650-4048 to request a printed copy of the Qs and As.

Stories of Hope--The Impact of First Serve

This 5 minute video shares stories of the impact that First Serve has had in the North Hill neighborhood--and how the 915 N. Main opportunity might help build and expand upon that foundation.

Qs & As: Vision & Scope

What is the overall vision for this project?

The overall vision is that 915 North Main becomes a community hub in the heart of North Hill: a place where people gather to experience community, camaraderie, and joy in a constantly evolving neighborhood. We envision a safe and thriving space for education, entertainment, recreation, and fun. Most important, the vision for this work will unfold around the wants and needs of folks who live right there in the neighborhood!

 

Why does FCCH need to be a part of this effort? Could the existing congregation do this work on their own?

We believe that a healthy future for the Church (and for many local churches) will involve a lot of community partnership and cooperation. We can look at almost any neighborhood and see countless church buildings that are underutilized. It will take strong community partners, like FCCH, to bring life and vitality to many of these spaces. We feel a sense of calling to this one!

What uses are envisioned for 915 North Main?

In conversation with numerous community groups/partners, we’ve heard many great ideas:

  • A hub for the arts: concerts, recitals, dance, theatre, music lessons.
  • Health and wellness: soccer, yoga, basketball, meditation, mindfulness.
  • Offices and/or meeting space for local non-profit organizations: Students with a Goal (SWAG), for example.
  • Existing faith communities who may wish to rent space for worship services.
  • Childcare or additional opportunities for education (financial literacy, for example).
  • The kitchen could be used as a start-up space for aspiring caterers or restauranteurs.
  • Light retail, small business, coffee shop, smoothie bar, etc.
  • We’ve even talked about a small movie theater in the building!
Can you tell us more about the North Hill neighborhood in general?

North Hill was primarily Italian American for a long time; later, it evolved to being primarily African American. The neighborhood has continued to change and is now home to a large Hispanic population as well as many in the immigrant/refugee community from around the world. North Hill is designated as Akron’s International District.

Will there be involvement with the International Institute?

Yes. We already are involved with them through the Trinity clothing room. We will continue to explore this partnership in greater depth.

How will First Serve fit into this?

First Serve has cultivated the relationships and the trust that make this project possible. While the 915 North Main Project represents something new and different, it will always be closely connected with First Serve. We are also excited for First Serve to have an office in the 915 North Main building, right in the heart of North Hill.

Has this approach been tried elsewhere across the country or in other denominations?

Yes! It absolutely has. We can point to other models and other places where this has been done.

One of the reasons this is such an exciting and hopeful opportunity is that 1 in 10 congregations in our denomination have closed their doors in the last 10 years. When churches close, one of two things typically happens: they give the building to the denomination, which frequently (and usually unsuccessfully) attempts to restart a church in that space; OR they sell the building to a for-profit organization that goes on to redevelop the building for its own gain.

In a time when many congregations are closing, we have an opportunity to model something new. It gives the existing congregation at Trinity UCC an opportunity to live out their legacy in a new and innovative way that benefits and elevates the neighborhood. And it gives us an opportunity to live out our statement of welcome: to meet people where they are!

Qs & As: Legal & Financial

Are we buying this property or is it being given to us?

We are being given this property as a gift. We have been advised by a consulting attorney to avoid the language of “sale” altogether.

How would a separate 501(c)(3) work?

A legally distinct 501(c)(3) legal entity would be formed as the property transfers to FCCH. The existence of a discrete legal entity shields FCCH from legal or financial liability in the (unlikely) event that the project turns out to be unsustainable for any reason.

What is a 501(c)(3)?

A 501(c)(3) is a nonprofit organization that is tax exempt because it exists solely for one of several reasons: charitable purposes, religious services, educational uses, or a handful of others. This is a status received, by application, from the federal government.

Why must the property transfer to FCCH?

Technically, the property will not transfer to FCCH. It will transfer to the control and management of an independent 501(c)(3) organization that we will establish. (See questions above for additional information.) This allows us to access public and private grant dollars that are not available to exclusively faith-based organizations.

What are the annual operating expenses of the building?

Approximate operating expenses in 2023:

  • Utilities and insurance: $30,000
  • Custodial support: $25,000

We are budgeting $100,000/year to own and operate the building in 2025 and 2026. We anticipate an increase in insurance and utilities as building use increases, and we are budgeting for a building manager to oversee tenants and ensure a positive tenant experience.

Note that church staff positions (pastor, office manager, music staff, etc.) will remain the purview and responsibility of Trinity UCC or any congregation that worships in the space.

Is there a plan to generate revenue?

Yes. We intend for 915 N Main to become a self-sustaining enterprise by 2027. We will lease portions of the building to local non-profit organizations and, potentially, small businesses. We will also pursue grant funding and corporate support. Several groups already use the space and pay rent, including recovery groups and two other multi-ethnic congregations.

To date, we have raised over $100,000 to cover operating expenses in the first year. We will continue to fundraise and secure tenants to offset costs in year two and in future budget years.

Can we pledge or contribute financially toward this project?

If you would like to pledge or give to support this project, you can do so now. For more information about donation, talk to Peter Wiley, Jeff Coy, Allen Wass, or Doug Krapf.

Does the building need any major repairs?

We hired an outside company to do a thorough building inspection. Copies of that report are available for review, upon request. Overall, the building is in excellent condition. The roof is relatively new and in great shape. The boiler is in good shape. Capital improvements are needed to make the bathrooms handicap-accessible and to replace the existing elevator; those improvements will be considered only when we have established an adequate capital reserve.

Who will pay for Trinity UCC congregation’s staff?

Trinity will continue paying their own staff (minister; office staff; etc.)

Who will pay for building maintenance and building staff (custodian, etc.)?

The newly created 501(c)(3) will assume the annual operating and maintenance expenses.

How do we get firm commitments from those who have expressed interest in leasing space?

We continue to be in active conversation with several community organizations about leasing space in the building. Those agreements can be finalized once the building is gifted.

What staff/administrative resources would be required from our church to make this happen?

915 N. Main Street will have its own staff to do the oversight/care/groundwork at the building. We do not envision any of the existing staff at FCCH being relocated or redeployed there.

Does the building come with any financial resources or endowment?

Trinity UCC has a modest endowment, but they will retain those funds.

How are we handling accessibility challenges in the building?

As we move toward partnership agreements with building tenants, it will provide us with a secure basis for making capital improvements (including accessibility) to the space. For example, if a renting organization is willing to sign a 5-year lease, that is a compelling reason to invest in improvements to relevant spaces. We also plan to pursue grant funding for eventual improvements to restrooms and/or the elevator.

What is the current security situation?

The building is typically locked, and visitors are buzzed in. We are not aware of significant security issues in or around the building.

Do we have an exit plan if this project is not sustainable by 2027?

In short, yes. An exit strategy will be written into our agreement to receive the property. If the project is not sustainable in the projected time frame, the exit clause will be exercised. FCCH will not begin diverting resources toward 915 N Main to keep it afloat.

Qs and As: Next Steps

When will the decision be made about whether to receive the building?

Our Due Diligence Team continues to work through a checklist of processes to make sure we can provide the congregation with a thorough legal, financial, and ideological vision for 915 N Main. Once that work is complete, the final report and recommendation to receive the property will be brought before the congregation (FCCH) for a formal vote. By rule, the congregation will be given at least two weeks’ notice in advance of that vote. We are hopeful it might take place in the Spring, sometime after Easter Sunday.

What would the congregational vote be about?

The congregation will be asked to vote on whether FCCH should accept the property at 915 North Main Street in Akron. Trinity UCC would then gift the building to the non-profit organization created by FCCH. (See legal/financial section for additional details.)