- Q: Where is the new church going to be located?
A: The new church will be located on the Darnestown property, in northwestern Montgomery County, Maryland, on fourteen (14.5) acres of rolling green fields with lush backyard forestry located safely and privately off of Darnestown Road. The land is adjacent to the 10+ Acres of Cliff Bland Recreation Area to the south, and 14+ acres of common lands shared with our neighbors to the east and north. The land is currently owned by the AYC and is debt-free.
- Q: How far is it from the current church?
A: The new location is located approximately 17 miles from the current Flint Drive location by following River Road heading west. The time is approximately 30 minutes.
- Q: What will happen to the old church?
A: The complex will be built in multiple and those phases will be determined on which design is selected by the community. The Flint Drive facility will be used as is during the first Phases of the construction. After it is possible to move the community as a whole, the congregation will move to the new location, sell the Flint Drive location and start construction on the new church sanctuary. During this time, Church services will be temporarily be held in the new community center.
- Q: How are we going to fund the new property?
A: The new property will be funded through Soorp Khatch organizational donations, current building fund, loans, other fund raising efforts, direct donations from members of the congregation and of course the sale of Flint Drive.
- Q: What amenities will the new building have?
A: The amenities will change as each phase is completed. Initially there will be a main hall with outside entrances to the courtyard and lobby, coatroom etc. for sport, banquet and different social events. Approx. 8,000 Sq. Ft., Commercial Kitchen, storage, lockers and showers, playroom (Arcade/nursery), a small café/meeting space Approx. 4,800 Sq. Ft. Parking. The different Phases of the project will be outlined once a design has been selected. The AYC has narrowed down the options to two different approaches both allowing the community to move as a whole to the new property.
- Q: Why do we want to leave the current church and move to a new location?
A: The community has outgrown the current Flint Drive facility. There is not adequate room to hold services, fellowship, and events. The organizations are renting other facilities for their functions. The Hamasdegh Armenian school is suffering from very small classrooms and no office space. There is no nursery for parents to leave their young children and enjoy services. Our elderly have many stairs to climb to arrive at the sanctuary and of course there is no parking.
- Q: What is the cost of the new location?
A: The total cost is between $3M to $5M, partially dependent on the types of . construction materials used to build the facility. The initial site-related infrastructure cost which is needed before a building can be erected for things like the sewer and water systems is $1.2M. This cost includes the permitting and engineering to prep the land for building.
- Q: Is the land paid for?
A: Yes. The parcel of raw land is completely without mortgage or lien and has sufficient space to accommodate growth of the community for the foreseeable future.
- Q: Do the church and organization support the project?
A: Yes if all of their needs are met. A request for information (RFI) was issued to all our affiliated organization, in which AYC requested every organization to specify their specific needs. All organizations communicated their detailed requirements to the AYC board. These requirements were captured, documented and will be integrated into the current design. Any design or budgetary comprises will be communicated to the organizations in due course .
- Q: Will the move be a one-time event or stretched out during the construction of the project?
A: The plan and the desire is to move the community to the new facility together as a whole unit– church, school, and community center. This requires a bit of strategic planning to do so. The move will happen after Phase I is completed.
- Q: How long will it take to build it?
A: Phase I will take approximately 18 months from planning to moving. Phase II and III are as funds are obtained.
- Q: What has already been done?
A: Lots. Within the last 3 years, the AYC has organized the not-for-profit organization. Modified bylaws to be transparent to the community; Consulted with accounting firms to advise on how to handle donations; researched and produced a business plan to show how to sustain the operating costs of the facility; met with organizations and the church BOT a number of times to inform them of the project and ask for their input and support; organized a marketing committee to bring awareness to the community for the project; organized a building committee to evaluate proposals; received preliminary proposals from engineering firms; obtained permits and approvals from Montgomery County for the project. Countless meetings, recording of minutes, and two years of pumpkin patch picnics
- Q: What major impediments are to the competition of the project?
A: Funding, trust, and location.
- Q: How big is the land?
A: Currently 14.5 acres. In 1985 the AYC purchased 44 acres of land in Darnestown, Maryland with the sole intent of establishing a facility capable of accommodating the growing Soorp Khatch community’s population. In 1995, 30 of the 44 acres were subdivided and sold. Sale funds were used to repay the original loan to purchase the land. Since June 2007, the land is free of debt.
- Q: How much will the actual infrastructure cost?
A: 1.2M plus with $55,000 for planning costs.
- Q: What does the new infrastructure include?
A: Infrastructure and Multifunctional Facility Cost (Phase 1)
|1.1||sediment control||$ 66,582|
|4.1||Foundation and pore slabs||$478,500|
- Q: Who owns the land?
A: The AYC which are comprised of 11 members of the organizations and community in this way: Armenian Cultural Association of America ACAA: five (5) Board MembersSoorp Khatch Board of Trustees (BOT): two (2) members;
Homenetmen of Greater Washington (HMEM): one (1) member;
Armenian Youth Federation(AYF): one (1) member;
Armenian Relief Society (ARS): one (1) member; and
Hamaskayin: one (1) member.
- Q: What are the operating costs of the new facility/conference center?
A: The operating costs are estimated to be $343,590 annually
- Q: Who is in the AYC? What organizations?
A: Armenian Youth Center (AYC) owns the land and has 11 board members. See answer to question 17.
- Q: Who would the new facility serve?
A: The facility will serve the Armenian community of Greater Washington for worship, fellowship, community and sporting events. Further the property will serve the Darnestown community for income generation.
- Q: Have we completed a market study for the need for a conference space in the area to determine demand?
A: Yes. A market study has been conducted and a list of surrounding facilities has been studied to show cost and venue size. The need is definitely there to support the operating budget. The professional conference center will a be a valuable resource to the community and will support the budget of the operating the hall. See business plan.
- Q: The location of the land adjacent to it is Montgomery park (has various sports facilities and picnic spots)
A: Yes the park next door has soccer field, playground, baseball fields and picnic area. The park can be used and must be reserved through Montgomery County.
- Q: Will the new space have a stage for the performing arts?
A: Yes. The plan is to have a stage and backstage to support performing arts, school plays and initially church services.
- Q: We gave money already, why should we donate again?
A: Any money that was donated has been used to get the permitting required and to maintain the land and pay any taxes due. The County had bullets of items that must be met before the permit was granted including planting buffer trees. All these items have been met. Some funds have been used for marketing, i.e, pumpkin patch picnics, meetings but most of these items were donated by the board members.
- Q: Why should we move farther into Maryland, while it’s already far for those whole live in Virginia?
A: For the congregation that lives in Virginia, the distance is a concern. It has been physically measures to take an extra 10-15 minutes to drive to the new property when exiting River Road from 495. The new church drive is estimated to add 15 minutes to Virginia and DC resident’s commuting time. The commuting time will be reduced for those who live in Gaithersburg and other northern Montgomery County areas.
- Q: How will this serve different age groups (young, elderly, families without children, etc.)
A: Youth will have community center to “hang out”, basketball and volleyball courts, arcade, youth events.. Elderly will have handicap access, fellowship opportunities. Families with and without children will be able to attend cultural events, help with food festivals, lead bible study groups, volunteer, have exercise classes, meetings. We can also explore an Armenian Single Social Event!
- Q: Is there a need for a strong community in center of US (DC)?
A: Yes we do have a need – we are located in Washington, DC. and there are many reasons Armenians from around the country and even the world come to D.C., including for advocacy work, internships, etc. Having a strong, professional conference center available to these groups will only strengthen our community.
- Q: Does AYC have any funds in their account?
A: Yes the AYC has approximately $10,000 from donations and pumpkin patch proceeds available to use towards initial site plan design and marketing expenses.
- Q: Do the local organizations plan to reach outside of the community to ask for donations? For example, other charters of ARS, AYF, ARF, Hamazkayin and Homenetmen?
A: Yes the marketing and fundraising committees will be asking for donations throughout the United States from sister organizations and other Armenians in general. It is to the benefit of all Armenians to have a suitable church and community center for the Washington DC area to support now and future generations.
- Q: Has AYC paid for an engineering firm to start the initial work:
A: AYC has provided funds to Bazikian to do some civil engineering of the land to gain permitting from Montgomery County.
- Q: Can Soorp Khatch organizations plan separate events which funds could be allocated to the AYC project?
A: All organizations of Soorp Khatch have been asked to raise a target amount for the AYC to build into their fund raising budget. Each organization is to discuss amongst their members to develop a plan to raise the target amount or another amount that the members feel is possible to generate.
- Q: How much is Flint Drive worth if it is sold?
A: An appraisal has not officially been performed on Flint Drive but it is believed to be worth approximately $2M given the properties that have been sold in the neighborhood, tax assessments values, and need for such a facility.
- Q: What is the value of the Darnestown land?
A: Again, although an official appraisal has not been be performed, the land is thought to be worth between $2M-$2.5M given the surrounding land and sales. An official appraisal for the development of the church and community center would be done if required and cost about $4,500.
- Q: When will the building of the new facility start?
A: Montgomery County has allowed until August 2018 to obtain a building permit to start the construction. The target is to start before that date.
- Q: When will the construction be completed?
A: The building time will be between 12-18 months given all inspections and permits are obtained in a timely manner.
- Q: What are contingency plans if funding is not available?
A: Develop the land only through the infrastructure stage and re-evaluate the project’s completion options. Mortgage Flint Drive to keep the project moving forward.
- Q: What does our Prelacy say about the project?
A: As the Soorp Khatch Church is a member of the Prelacy certain guidelines and bylaws must be followed. One of those rules is that the Prelacy must approve expenditures over $30,000 that the community spends from its resources. Our Prelacy if very much in favor of the project as long as a church sanctuary is being constructed, however the Soorp Khatch BOT and community must present the project and obtain approval for the funding that is provided through the church’s funds.