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St. Francis details expansion plans

One north Brainerd Catholic church will undergo significant expansion if its proposed $4.9 million capital campaign succeeds. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church unveiled its capital campaign Sunday during Mass to its parishioners. On Tuesday, ...

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church's $4.9 million capital campaign is raising funds for an expansion on the north side of the church building. (Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch)
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church's $4.9 million capital campaign is raising funds for an expansion on the north side of the church building. (Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch)

One north Brainerd Catholic church will undergo significant expansion if its proposed $4.9 million capital campaign succeeds.

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church unveiled its capital campaign Sunday during Mass to its parishioners. On Tuesday, residents got a chance to attend two meetings to get a closer look at expansion plans.

The church's proposed plan is to build an addition and to renovate the church basement to create a new gathering space that could better serve events, such as weddings and funerals. The renovation includes building a new kitchen, restrooms, a new elevator and a family and cry room/area.

Tuesday morning in the church basement, the Rev. Tony Wroblewski said the project plan is the result of years of planning and listening to comments from parishioners. The facilities planning team listened to every comment and question, he said, and addressed them.

"Every single comment was addressed," Wroblewski said. "I want you to understand that."

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One issue brought up during the meeting dealt with handicap accessibility for the church. Under the proposed plan, the elevator will be located as close to the east entrance as possible, Wroblewski said. That east entry will also feature a covered entry from the parking lot.

"We wanted to make the elevator as close to an entrance as possible," Wroblewski said. "It's literally as close to the entrance as we can get it."

Erica Marcussen, member of the facilities planning team, said the elevator was planned for the east entrance and not the west entrance because the east entrance opens to the parking lot, where there are handicap parking spaces available.

The team has also discussed ways to bring more natural light into the social hall in the church basement, Marcussen said. There's some chances to add new and change existing windows on the south side of the basement, she said, which would bring more light in.

"We'll also try, as we get further into the design, see if there's anything that we can do," Marcussen said.

The proposed kitchen in the church basement also came up from parishioners interested in what the new kitchen would look like. Marcussen said as the designs progress, the committee, along with Widseth Smith Nolting, will look at other church kitchen remodels to see what they'd like to incorporate in their new kitchen.

"One of the first things we did, is we actually went and visited different churches to see how they did their kitchens," Wroblewski said. "That was the process that we first began."

It's going to be a few years before the church can start digging and break ground on the expansion project, Wroblewski said. The project has preliminary approval from the Diocese of Duluth, but the church still needs to go back to the diocese for financial approval, he said. They also need to approve a more detailed project plan.

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The church needs to have 75 percent in cash and pledges before starting a new construction project, Wroblewski said. The capital campaign starts now and will wrap up in the spring of 2016, at which point the church will know where it stands in terms of funding.

"At that point, we're going to make some decisions to be able to say what we can and can't do at that time," Wroblewski said.

Even if the church has $5 million in hand in the spring of 2016, Wroblewski said, they wouldn't be able to start construction until spring of 2017.

"We can't even conceive of putting a shovel in the ground for at least another year and a half," Wroblewski said.

The church could also look for a start date of spring of 2018, Wroblewski said, and spend the extra time collecting pledges. The construction period will last 10-12 months, Marcussen said.

Details of the $4.9 million plan include:

• Phase One is $2.34 million and includes adding a 8,665 square-foot two-story addition and renovating the lower level.

• Phase Two would cost about $422,000 to build a 2,172-square-foot addition for the church offices.

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• $250,000 in professional fees, such as architecture, site survey, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering.

• $150,000 in kitchen equipment and appliances.

• $1.5 million to pay off the school debt.

• $200,000 in loan interest.

• $75,000 in fundraising expenses.

The money raised also would help pay off the St. Francis of the Lakes Catholic School debt. During the church's "quiet campaign," they raised $340,000 that will go toward the debt on the school.

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

The Rev. Tony Wroblewski explains details of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church's expansion plans to parishioners Tuesday. (Spenser Bickett/Brainerd Dispatch)
The Rev. Tony Wroblewski explains details of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church's expansion plans to parishioners Tuesday. (Spenser Bickett/Brainerd Dispatch)

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