Why move, can’t we just renovate our Smiley campus? With the construction of our Milburn campus, we are excited to have a ministry presence in the heart of our community’s current and future growth. O’Fallon is growing exponentially, and a new building puts us in the best position to reach out to new residents and families in our city. It will make our church a visible beacon in the expanding population center of our town. The Milburn campus will also give us a church that is easier to navigate and friendly to visitors. Our Smiley campus is not designed with the needs of newcomers in mind. Visitors are unsure of where to go when they enter the building, and its design is not enticing and welcoming. A simple renovation will not be able to fix these inadequacies. Any renovation and expansion of our Smiley building will also exacerbate our current parking concerns. Being landlocked on all sides currently gives us little ability for any future growth.
Why are we building a smaller building than we are already in? As it stands now, we are designing our Milburn Facility to have less total square footage than our current Smiley Campus. This is primarily to do with cost, but we don’t see it as a barrier. One key reason for this reduced footprint is the exclusion of a new gymnasium at Milburn, at least initially. We do have the capacity to build this in a phase 2 at a later date. This absence of a gym accounts for much of the reduced square footage, but not all. There is also a reduction of what our architect (Chiodini) would call “throughway” space: hallways and stairways; space that has no other use than to move people from one place to another. There is less throughway space in the new building, thereby maximizing usable space. Overall, we believe the Milburn Campus will offer far more functionality and accessibility. Rooms will be more open, airy, and welcoming, and many adult meeting spaces will offer flexibility with how many people they can accommodate.
Will we have a full commercial kitchen? All things considered, we would love to have a full commercial kitchen available from day one in our new building. This is our dream, but we are cognizant that, because of cost, this may not be a feasible option on day one. We may instead need to open our building with what is known as a catering kitchen. This kitchen would have the ability to host large meals, with sinks, refrigerators, and warmers, but most of the heavy-duty cooking would have to occur offsite. The worry about cost has little to do with the kitchen size or location. It has more to do with the expense of commercial grade equipment (e.g., stoves, ovens, dishwashers). This can be a large investment. If we decide to begin with the option of a catering kitchen, this would not be a permanent plan. Our kitchen would include the infrastructure to accommodate commercial equipment in the future, and we would plan fundraisers to make the increased usability a reality as quickly as possible.
Why are we planning to move the Learning Tree to the Milburn Location? Our current plan to move our Learning Tree ministries to the Milburn location is based upon a strong recommendation from our architects. We are already planning on building Sunday School spaces for our children, which would be unused during the week were we to keep the Learning Tree at our Smiley site. In addition, it would be cost-prohibitive, if not impossible, to renovate our current space to meet state licensing requirements (e.g., emergency exits, plumbing and toilets, sprinklers). In the long run, it will be far less costly and more efficient to move our Learning Tree preschool and PMO right away. This plan will allow for growth, as we will be able to increase the hours of classroom time. We also anticipate keeping some of our Parents’ Morning Out programs at the Smiley campus. This part of our Learning Tree program is less regulated and is a unique ministry in our community. With the use of two PMO locations (Smiley and Milburn) it offers unique opportunities for expansion.
What will we use the Smiley Campus for? Why aren’t we going to sell it? In June of 2017, we voted on moving forward with a plan for “One Church in Two Locations.” The original plan was to build a new worship center at our Milburn Campus, and to renovate the Smiley Campus into a “mission center” for our congregation, housing the Learning Tree and Student ministries. We still plan on housing most of our student ministry programs at the Smiley Campus due to its proximity to OTHS and the gymnasium in our current Family Life Center. As we move most of our offices and operations to the Milburn Campus, we will open up room for expanded youth space and programming. With the space left open by the Learning Tree move, we anticipate continuing with our original design of creating a mission center at our Smiley Campus. The extra room in this building offers us the opportunity to begin mission programs directed at some of the neediest in our community. We are hoping to take some of the most pressing needs and match them with the gifts and passions of our congregation members, to create missions that change lives.We have already begun having conversations with community leaders about possibilities. There may be a time in the future, when we build a new gym at our Milburn Campus, that we would move our youth programming there. At that point, we would evaluate the effectiveness of our Smiley Mission Center and move forward from there.
Where on the property will we build? We currently see two potential sites on our land for placing our new church building. We are currently leaning toward a site that would be right on the corner of Milburn School Road and Simmons (but set back from the road). This location appears to be the less expensive option and would offer us access from both roads. As we continue moving forward with our plans, this could change, but it seems to be the recommended, and most likely, alternative at present.