September 2019 Update

We are so pleased to have been successful in raising more than $6 million for the building expansion project. Added to the $1 million in savings, we started out with $7 million for the project, which consisted of building a new rectory and expanding the church. The campaign officially ended in December 2018. Many donors made 5-year pledges. Pledge payments remain strong and a number of parishioners have agreed to commit additional gifts even after their pledges were completed. We are so grateful to the 838 families who have given to this effort.

The first phase of the construction project was to build a new rectory. The building was completed in April 2019 and our priests moved into their new home. This phase of the project cost $822,000 which is $200 per square foot. After paying architect and other fees, we have a budget of $6 million for the church expansion.

For more than a year, the Building Committee from the parish worked with an architect to develop initial plans and bid documents for the church expansion. The members put together the best possible plan, knowing that after the bid process, it may be necessary to revise it based on budget constraints. The documents were completed this spring and a request for bids was widely circulated.

St. Francis received 5 bids from construction companies, with cost estimates of between $8.2 and $9.3 million (without contingency). Finance Committee Chair, Mike Coleman, and Pastor Fr. Don Geyman assembled a Construction Lead Task Force made up of well-respected building experts with no connection to the companies who provided bids. Their purpose was to review the bids, interview finalists, select a winning bidder and work to modify the plans to fit within the parish budget. The following volunteered for this important work: Fred Hackl, architect from Harbor Springs; Don Morgridge, architect from Gaylord and member of Diocesan Building Committee; Mike Brown, Burdco Construction; and Jim Burkholder, builder and building committee member. The Construction Lead Task Force completed vetting and awarded the project to Grand Traverse Construction.

Even through the bid process, the cost estimate was still $9 million (includes contingency), which was significantly higher than the $6 million we had budgeted for this part of the project. The cold reality is that construction costs in our region have sky rocketed over the last five years.   

The Task Force worked with the architect and builder to redesign the plans to fit our current budget while still keeping the original vision intact. They were able to get the costs down to $7.5 million (includes contingency). Fr. Geyman and the task force settled on final plans, which were submitted to the Diocese. The Diocese was supportive of our work and ask for finalized construction documents so that construction can begin.