ALCOA, Tenn. (Oct. 20, 2015) -- Eight years after the Holston Conference headquarters moved from Knoxville to Alcoa, the building at 217 South Rankin is undergoing construction to make more room for staff members and to meet fire-code requirements.
The $75,000 renovation project focuses on the first floor, with a few changes on the second floor, according to Rick Cherry, conference treasurer. The third floor, where Bishop Dindy Taylor’s office is located, will not be changed.
“The construction on the first floor was initiated by the necessity of the Holston Conference Foundation needing additional space,” Cherry said. “The Foundation leases space from the conference. The Foundation has outgrown the current space.”
The Holston Conference Board of Trustees decided to use existing space on the first floor for three staff members and storage, freeing up space on the second floor for Foundation staff, Cherry said.
The second floor is the building’s main floor, where the entrance exists. Roger Redding, executive director of the Holston Conference Foundation, said that three offices formerly occupied by communications and finance staff are being incorporated in the Foundation suite, located on the right side of the building near the main entrance.
“Two doors are being cut to access three offices connected to our suite,” Redding said. “Paul Bowman will have walls and a door which will provide more privacy when meeting with prospective donors about plans and options. We will then have more space to potentially add another staff person sometime in the future.”
Bowman is the Foundation’s director of gift planning. The Foundation currently has five full-time staff members and one part-time staff.
CHANGES & COST
Construction on the first floor was approved by the Council on Finance and Administration (CFA), Cherry said, to correct preexisting violations of safety and building codes.
The first-floor changes will include:
> The existing large meeting room ("event center") will be enclosed and improved with a new emergency exit and double doors, as well as accommodations for a new audiovisual system.
> New serving area will be added outside the event center.
> "Break room" will be expanded and enhanced with additional cabinets, counter top and doors.
> Central hallway will be extended from the elevator to the loading dock.
> Connectional Ministries storage area will be expanded and door will be relocated.
> Audiovisual production office will be provided for communications staff member Donna Hankins.
> Audiovisual “control room” will be provided at the rear of the event center.
> Administrative services offices and hallways will be adapted for Cherry and his assistant, Angela Lee.
The renovation is projected to be complete by Nov. 5, Lee said.
“The estimated cost of the project is $75,000 and was approved by the CFA to be paid with reserves held in investment,” Cherry said.
In addition, audiovisual equipment to be purchased for the event center will cost less than $20,000. “This is an upgrade that has been requested many, many times from groups and people who utilize this center for meetings,” Cherry said.
The Board of Trustees has proposed a rental rate increase for all tenants effective January 2016, according to Chair David McLain. The three tenants in the Alcoa Conference Center include the Foundation, the Maryville District office, and the Bishop’s office (paid by the General Council on Finance and Administration).
Redding said that part of the renovation cost may be paid from a bequest from Erma Greenwood.
In 2007, the conference headquarters was relocated from leased space at Cokesbury United Methodist Church in west Knoxville to the former Ruby Tuesday office building in Alcoa, purchased for $1.8 million.
At the time, the first floor was leased by a data-processing company. The second floor accommodated 21 staff members, including Foundation staff. The third floor housed Bishop James Swanson, seven staff members, and the Maryville District office.
In 2010, the data-processing company did not renew their lease. The search for a new tenant did not succeed, Cherry said.
In 2013, the Board of Trustees approved using the first floor as an “event center” and storage area. The renovation cost was $18,961, according to Cherry.
When the latest renovation is complete in 2015, the first floor will house three staff members; the second floor, 20; and the third floor, eight staff members, plus the Maryville District office and Bishop Taylor.
The event center on the first floor provides meeting space for 100 people and is larger than the conference room on the third floor, Cherry said.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.