Renovation & Capital Campaign FAQs

Below you’ll find answers to many of the questions we have received from parishioners about the proposed renovation and our capital campaign. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, please use our contact form to submit your question and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Also remember, volunteers will be contacting each parish family individually to discuss the campaign. 

View FAQs by category (or simply scroll down to read all):



Is the kitchen project on hold due to the Coronavirus?
Thankfully, no! The Kitchen Committee is working hard on the project, meeting biweekly and making decisions about equipment and infrastructure. However, with Virginia on a stay at home order through June 10, there are still a lot of unknowns at this point.

What is the current stage of the project?
As of March 31, the project is in the Detailed Drawing stage. The architects and engineers are working on the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing designs.

What is the next stage?
The architects plan to submit the drawings to the County for permitting very soon. As of March 31, the design is not quite ready.

Will the County permitting process be slowed by the Coronavirus?
Not necessarily. Drawings are submitted electronically, and our architects have informed us that they have received feedback from the County on other projects in their pipeline. However, the time it takes for permits to be issued is unpredictable, even without a pandemic.

Has the Committee chosen a general contractor?
Yes. The Committee chose Whitener and Jackson, a local firm that has been in business 73 years and has extensive experience with church projects, including several Episcopal churches in our area.

Do we have a bid on construction costs?
No. Since the General Contractor will seek bids from subcontractors for work on the various trades, we decided to hold off on the bidding process until closer to the time the permit will be issued.

Will St. Alban’s have a choice of subcontractors?
Yes. The General Contractor will solicit pricing from a minimum of 4 subcontractors in every trade. The General Contractor takes an open book approach to reviewing pricing and will work with the Kitchen Committee to select the best, most responsive subcontractors for the scope of our project.

Are we still on track to do construction over the summer?
It is hard to tell. When we met with the General Contractor on March 9, Vice President Kevin Jackson cautioned us that our timeline was optimistic. We knew that our start date would depend on when we get the permit. Since March 9, the world has changed. We don’t know yet how the availability of supplies and labor will affect the timing of our project. Our approach is to move forward, in faith that God is calling St. Alban’s deeper into our mission of food in our community, and to move forward with diligence so that we are ready to start when circumstances permit.

Vision FAQs

Why do we need a kitchen renovation?
To continue and expand our mission to live as a vibrant, Christ-centered community, witnessing God’s love for all people through worship, education, stewardship, outreach and pastoral care.

When did we last renovate the kitchen?
1987. The renovation was mainly cosmetic, focused on building new cabinets to provide better storage, but it did not address the existing electrical and plumbing issues still facing us today.

What is wrong with the kitchen?
The plumbing is inadequate – we can’t run the dishwasher and run water in the sink at the same time. We can’t sanitize dishes, our stove does not work properly, our fridge is old and our now unreliable freezer inadequate. Cupboard interiors and laminated materials are breaking down. Floor and ceiling tiles are disintegrating. Surfaces cannot be adequately cleaned. Existing electrical supply cannot accommodate more than just a minimum of appliances. We do not have an automatic fire suppression system. We don’t have enough storage.

Why don’t we just fix the plumbing and get new appliances?
To fix the plumbing will require us to take up the floor. The heating of this food in our kitchen is often difficult due to our limited electrical system and a reliance on crock pots. The current plumbing and electrical infrastructure cannot support new appliances. All this argues for a complete renovation.

Did the kitchen committee consider an adequate non-commercial kitchen option versus a commercial kitchen?
Yes, but doing so would not address the underlying plumbing and electrical issues, and would not address future outreach, fellowship and rental needs. When the parish called Fr. Jeff as Rector, he articulated a strong call to the mission of feeding the hungry. In its early meetings, the Kitchen Committee and the Rector identified the vision and mission a kitchen would help us accomplish. We chose to develop a commercial kitchen because our mission could not be accomplished with a home-type kitchen.

Was a Needs Assessment conducted in support of the Kitchen Project? If so, is it quantitative to identify who and what will be served?
The Kitchen Committee focused on qualitative changes that St. Alban’s could accomplish with an enhanced kitchen facility. That being said, a back of the envelope estimate is that the kitchen could be used to provide about 5000 additional hot meals a year through increased participation in the Poe program plus in-reach events such as hosting church youth groups, full-day VBS, parish family dinners, hot meal preps for funerals and enhanced hypothermia week. We could expect an increase to 13,000+ additional hot meals a year as we look to add a church-sponsored school in the future.

Did the kitchen committee visit the other local churches on Columbia Pike? Do they have commercial kitchens such that the need in the area is saturated?
In January 2018, the Kitchen Committee surveyed nearby competitors for rental of event space. Since there were no competitors in the immediate area, we called facilities from Arlington to Burke, including religious institutions, fire stations, and community centers. Charges range from $110 for a much smaller facility than we have, to $400 per hour, and some charge extra for use of the kitchen. We do not believe that the area is saturated with comparable facilities.

How much do we charge now for events in the Parish Hall?
Parishioners may use the facilities without charge. Outside groups pay $200/hr. (Regional churches and event halls similar in size to our parish hall, with a stage and kitchen, charge between $1500 and $3000 per event.)

What are we doing with our existing kitchen?
Here are current uses of the kitchen:

  • Dinner and simple breakfast for the Hypothermia project
  • Family dinners
  • Taco dinner from the youth group
  • Pancake supper from the Vestry
  • Bazaar Café
  • Receptions for funerals
  • Poe feeding program (storage and pick up of supplies and food)
  • Soup and salad for Lenten program
  • Picnic (only used for cold storage before moving to Rectory grounds)
  • Oktoberfest
  • Staging coffee hour

What more could we be doing once our space is renovated?
Imagine the possibilities:

  • We could prepare the food for the Poe feeding project in house.
  • We could offer community dinners for the disadvantaged.
  • We could market our facility for wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, and other celebrations.
  • We could increase the number of rentals because we would be a better choice than nearby competitors, and we could charge more if we had a functional kitchen.
  • We could prepare both a hot dinner and hot breakfast for the Hypothermia project.
  • Family dinners would not have to be catered, which would reduce the cost and create an opportunity for parishioners to work together.
  • We could offer hot items for funeral receptions.
  • The preschool could prepare meals for the students.
  • We could purchase food items in bulk and on sale if we had appropriate storage.
  • We could reduce or eliminate the use of paper and plastic serving ware.
  • We could hold dinner fundraisers, similar to the Our Little Roses fundraiser we used to do.

How far into the future will the new kitchen meet St. Alban’s needs?
Our architect estimates a new kitchen, with proper maintenance, repair and replacement of nonworking equipment, will last 40 – 50 years.

Return to categories or keep scrolling.

Design FAQs

How did the Kitchen Committee consider the feedback from parishioners about changes to the schematic design?
The Kitchen Committee discussed the parish feedback and consulted the architect in early September about the following suggestions:

  • A wider door or perhaps a double door into the parish hall from the kitchen
  • Daylight on the west wall in the form of a full window that could open
  • Upper windows above the planned sink that could also open

The architect is reviewing the feedback submitted and will make any changes to the schematic design early next year as part of the detailed drawing stage. His initial feedback on the proposed changes is the space may not allow for the additional windows though clerestory windows on the west wall may be a possibility. Also, if we opt for a wider door, we may lose valuable space for a trash can or cart. The Kitchen Committee will consider this before deciding on this option.

Why did you not add an outside door from within the kitchen, as some people suggested?
An outside door would eliminate the lockable storage space in the kitchen, which we need for the supplies and equipment now stored elsewhere in attics. The plan to put a door in the parish hall will give the needed access to outside for delivery and trash removal.

Isn’t an outside door from within the kitchen space important for fire safety?
The plan the architect produced complies with all fire safety codes and standards. An outside door would not improve fire safety because there will be a floor-to-ceiling wall about 2/3 of the width of the kitchen (on which the refrigerator and freezer would be located) that people working at the stove or prep area would have to go around, passing the door to the parish hall on the way to such an outside door. Those working in the dish cleaning area are very close to the door leading to the parish hall.

Why do we need County approval for our renovation?
We need County approval to legally serve food for public consumption.

What does the County require?
Fairfax County sets many requirements for the purpose of safeguarding public health and ensuring that food is safe, unadulterated and properly presented when offered to the consumer. These include requirements for equipment, appliances, construction materials, food preparation, hygiene, and cleaning. Our qualified architect and construction team will ensure that all elements of our design comply with County codes.

Could our current kitchen comply with County requirements?
Unfortunately, no.

Return to categories or keep scrolling.

Cost FAQs

Can the Committee share an update on the estimated breakdown of costs?
The Kitchen Committee asked the architect to provide a ball park estimate of kitchen construction costs so that we could help set a financial goal for the Capital Campaign. The architect worked with a kitchen designer and an experienced construction firm to come up with the estimate.

The estimate is based the assumption that we would incur most costs in June 2020. The estimated costs are divided into hard costs, soft costs, and contingency set-aside. The estimated construction costs (hard costs) are about $637K. The architect, permitting, utility upgrades, survey, engineering and related estimated fees (soft costs) are 30% of the hard costs, or about $191K. Our contingency set-aside (as advised by the architect’s firm) is 20% of the combined hard/soft costs, or about $165K.

The $993k total is a rough estimate based on the planning figure provided to us in November 2017 with addition of 3% per year for inflation of construction costs. (The architectural firm provided the 3% inflation estimate, noting that construction costs are rising more quickly than average inflation.)

When will we know for sure how much the kitchen project is going to cost?
We have set a provisional timeline of January/February for the detailed design to be undertaken, and we will seek bids on the construction phase once the drawings are completed. Our provisional timeline anticipates our seeking bids in March 2020. When we select a construction firm, we will expect the costs to be set except for any unforeseen contingencies that might arise during construction.

Will we need a bridge loan to build the kitchen?
Because Capital Campaign pledges are expected to be fulfilled over a 5-year period, we are likely to need a bridge loan to begin with. The Finance Committee will research and select a loan and will obtain appropriate approvals from the Diocese. The estimated fees associated with getting a loan and paying the interest is $54K.

Why does it cost this much?
We live in an area with high labor costs. Construction materials have increased in cost lately due to reconstruction after natural disasters, as well as new tariffs and threats of tariffs.

Return to categories or keep scrolling.

Kitchen Management FAQs

Will we need to hire someone to manage the new kitchen?
With our new kitchen, we will want to take several steps to make sure our facility is kept in good condition. We don’t need to hire a staff member, but we will create a checklist and train parishioners on how to use and care for the equipment and facility. For rental events, someone can be paid to open and inspect the kitchen after the event, and the cost will be added to the rental.

Do we need a permit to host parish or community dinners?
No. There is a state exemption from getting a permit for preparing and serving food to the needy and parishioners.

Do we need a permit to serve or sell alcohol?
We can serve alcohol for no charge without a permit at parish events. We require a one-time permit to sell alcohol at fundraisers.

Is a permit needed when we rent the kitchen?
Permits are the responsibility of the renters. A private event, such as a wedding or quinceñera, does not require a permit. If food is to be sold, the renter must get a one-time permit.

Do we have to provide a certified food manager for events?
No. A certified food manager is not required to be present for parish, community, or rented events.

How do we learn about food safety and handling?
The County recommends that anyone preparing or serving food take an online food safety course. The County also offers food safety workshops 3 times a year at Health Dept. headquarters, and for successful attendance, a certificate is awarded.

Will someone from the parish have to become a certified food manager?
Our long term vision of opening a child care center will require us to have a certified food manager present if we prepare and serve food.

Are permits required if we rent our facility to a caterer on a contract basis?
If a catering company rents our kitchen on a contract basis, they will need a permit.

Return to categories or keep scrolling.

Adjoining Facilities FAQs

Why do we need to renovate the bathrooms?
The current bathrooms do not meet County codes, and are inconveniently small. To install plumbing on the common wall with the kitchen requires us to tear down the adjacent wall. Once we work on the plumbing, we are required to upgrade code-compliant bathrooms.

Why do we need a shower and washer and dryer?
Laundering kitchen linens at church is more convenient than taking them home. A shower would allow us to better serve hypothermia guests, and to host youth groups visiting the area in the summer.

Return to categories or keep scrolling.

Timing/Disruption FAQs

When do you think the renovation can take place?
With a robust response to the Capital Campaign, and timely application for bridge loans, pre-construction surveys could begin Winter 2020 with construction taking place Summer 2020. Keep in mind, scheduling is tough to predict and we should give ourselves some latitude. The permitting process alone is highly unpredictable. Our planning timeline is provisional at this time.

How long will the kitchen be out of service?
3 to 4 months. We are planning as hard as we can to accomplish the bulk of the work during Summer 2020.

Will activities in the parish hall have to be suspended or moved?
Most activities can take place in the parish hall during construction, provided that food preparation and staging does not have to be done in the kitchen.

Return to categories or keep scrolling.

Capital Campaign FAQs

When does the Capital Campaign start and how long will it last?
The capital campaign had a soft start in September for committee members and volunteers, and an October 20 Announcement Day is planned for the parish. The capital campaign runs through December.

Will every member of the parish by contacted by members of the Capital Campaign Committee?
Yes. Every member of our parish will be contacted during the Capital Campaign period and asked to prayerfully consider making a pledge.

What are the fees for the Capital Campaign consultant?
The campaign consultant fee is $124K.

When was our last Capital Campaign?
The last Capital Campaign was begun in 2002. The fundraising goal was $1,879,400.

How much money did we raise?
$992,461. We also received a $50,000 Mustard Seed grant.

Wow! That was not nearly enough to complete our planned improvements. What did we do then?
We were not able to resurface the parking lot, and most of the other work had to be scaled back or eliminated entirely. We also borrowed money.

How much did we borrow, and for how long?
We borrowed $479,710 on April 9, 2009. It took us approximately 4 years to repay.

How did we raise money to repay the loan?
We held a “Debt Free in Three” fundraising campaign in 2009 and 2010. We used the money as it came in to pay down the loan, and we have been debt free since May 16, 2013.

What was the total amount spent on the last renovation?
$1.5 million. (The Kitchen was not included.)

Return to categories.