|On Friday, Aug. 15, representatives of the Diocese of Nashville and representatives of The Fellowship at Two Rivers met at the McGavock Pike facility and signed the documents closing the purchase of the property by the diocese. The two parties agreed that the Fellowship may continue to rent the facility until June 2015. From left are, Deacon Ron Deal, Father David Perkin, Bishop David Choby, Deacon Hans Toecker, Diocesan Chief Financial Officer Bill Whalen, Bill Davis, diocesan attorney Gino Marchetti and Richard Warren. Davis is on the diocesan real estate committee and Warren is an attorney representing The Fellowship at Two Rivers. Photos by Rick Musacchio
The Diocese of Nashville on Friday, Aug. 15, took a significant step toward meeting the future pastoral needs of the faithful in Middle Tennessee when Bishop David Choby signed documents completing the purchase of The Fellowship at Two Rivers property on McGavock Pike in Donelson.
The complex will become the home of the new Catholic Pastoral Center, replacing the current Catholic Center on 21st Avenue South and several other locations in the Nashville area housing offices of diocesan ministries.
“For several years we have been looking at opportunities to better serve the diocese in the area of administration by providing more adequate space for offices, which responds to the many needs of the people of the diocese,” Bishop Choby said. “I’m very pleased that in the purchase of the complex in the Donelson area that our current needs and the needs of the diocese long into the future will be adequately addressed.”
Representatives of the diocese and The Fellowship at Two Rivers sat at long tables on the stage of the facility’s large auditorium to sign the purchase contract. After the signing, the people present gathered to share prayers of thanksgiving.
The diocese paid $12.5 million for the property, which includes 37.5 acres and one building with 226,000 square feet, said Diocesan Chief Financial Officer Bill Whalen. The diocese received a credit on the purchase price of $150,000 for needed renovations, leaving the final cost at $12.35 million, he explained.
The facility includes two large auditoriums. The primary auditorium seats 3,300 in fixed pews, has an altar area and choir area and has audio-visual capabilities.
|Representatives of the Diocese of Nashville and representatives of the Fellowship at Two Rivers met at the McGavock Pike facility and signed the documents closing the transaction that results in the diocese purchasing the property. The diocese now owns the complex, but by agreement, the Fellowship may continue to rent the facility until June of 2015.
Behind the primary auditorium there is space that has been used as a choir practice area and could be used as meeting space.
The secondary auditorium in the facility has seating capacity for 900 people. The seating in the space is not permanent and can be arranged in a variety of configurations. The space, which includes a stage, could be used for banquets, lectures, meetings and other gatherings. There is room to accommodate 600 people at tables for a banquet, Whalen said.
The facility also has a full gymnasium with an elevated running track, a commercial kitchen, an 1,100-square-feet office suite, and 70 classrooms, some of which will be used as offices. The parking lot on the site has 1,600 spaces.
Under the terms of the purchase contract, the Fellowship at Two Rivers has until June 30, 2015, to leave the site. However leaders of the congregation, who are still looking for a new location, are optimistic they can be out by February, Whalen said.
The purchase of the facility will allow the diocese to consolidate the offices for several of its ministries in one place, Whalen said.
“We will determine what aspects of the diocese will be moving onto that property,” he said. Diocesan officials are analyzing the space needed now and for the future of the diocesan offices expected to move, as well as any infrastructure improvements that might needed, and a timeline for all the steps that need be taken to move the offices, Whalen said.
Among the offices that will move to the Catholic Pastoral Center are all the offices in the current Catholic Center, located on 21st Avenue South near Hillsboro Village; the Catholic Youth Office now located at the Cathedral of the Incarnation; the Tennessee Register now located in a building behind the Catholic Center; and the Catholic Schools Office now located in the St. Mary Villa office building at 30 White Bridge Road, Whalen said.
The administrative offices of Catholic Charities of Tennessee, now located at 30 White Bridge Road, will move to the new Catholic Pastoral Center but the locations where services are delivered will not be moving, Whalen said.
The increased operating costs of the new facility will be completely absorbed by the reduction in operating costs at the various properties the diocese will no longer be using, Whalen said. “It will actually save money.”
Renovations of the new location will be minimal, Whalen said. “The building is in very good shape.”
Thanks to recent gifts to the diocese and sound financial management, the diocese had the ability to purchase the building without a mortgage, Whalen said. The purchase used no funds from parishes nor will it affect “the economics of parishes,” he added.
The diocese intends to sell the Catholic Center, which is located on two acres in one of the most desirable sections of the city, to help recoup part of the cost of purchasing the Two Rivers site. “We hope to cover as much as possible of the purchase price with the money from the sale of the Catholic Center property,” Whalen said.
In recent years, the diocese has received several inquiries about its interest in selling the property, Whalen said. “We’re told this is the most desirable piece of property left in the Metro core,” he said.
Since the diocese announced its intention to buy the Two Rivers site and sell its property on 21st Avenue South, it has received expressions of interest from at least 15 people, Whalen said. The diocese will solicit proposals in mid-September, he said.
His goal is to sell the Catholic Center property by June, when the diocesan offices are expected to be completely moved into their new home, Whalen said.
The diocese has outgrown the Catholic Center, which was built in the 1950s and has 19,000 square feet of usable space. In addition to being inadequate for the space needs of the diocesan offices, the aging building is in need of extensive structural renovations.
Officials have been looking at alternatives for replacing the Catholic Center for about 10 years, Whalen said.
Over the last two years, officials determined that whatever option the diocese pursued it would cost about $12 million, he said, and Bishop Choby was committed to pursuing an alternative without incurring a mortgage.
“When the property came open within our $12 million price range it became providential and fortuitous for us,” Whalen said, because it met so many of the diocese’s needs.
The new site, which overlooks Briley Parkway and is located across Briley from the Opryland Hotel and Opry Mills, has easy access from major roadways and “significantly improves our visibility,” Whalen said.
Besides allowing the diocese to consolidate offices in one location, the purchase of the Two Rivers facility provides space “for a more robust and inclusive youth ministry and young adult program,” Whalen said.
The purchase also provides space for a variety of diocesan events, such as conferences, engaged couples retreats and high school graduations, Whalen said.
It also provides space for future growth, Whalen said. The diocese initially will use 75 to 80 percent of the available space in the facility, he said.
“The priests of the diocese, the Presbyteral Council, the diocesan Finance Board have all expressed enthusiastic support for the purchase,” Whalen said.
“The College of Consultors (made up of a group of priests of the diocese) and the Diocesan Finance Board were of enormous help in the acquisition of this property, and I am most grateful for their help and their support,” Bishop Choby added.
“In equal importance in concluding this acquisition was the effort on the part of Mr. Bill Whalen our CFO and the Rev. Mr. Ron Deal, our manager of facilities,” Bishop Choby added.