News Articles

Facilities plan approved to meet LifeWay needs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A facilities master plan designed to meet the needs of LifeWay Christian Resources through 2015 was approved by the agency’s trustees Feb. 9.
Providing for needed offices, parking, warehouse/distribution space, a cafeteria/kitchen and conference space is expected to cost $24.7 million and will be completed by 2005.
James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay, based in Nashville, Tenn., said the expansion and remodeling project “is designed to improve the agency’s ability to provide resources and services for 21st-century needs of persons and churches.”
“In order to provide biblical solutions that transform lives,” he said, “LifeWay must continue to improve the way it works to most effectively provide those resources.”
Jim Shull, director of LifeWay’s corporate services department, said the recommendations are based on an extensive study by Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum (HOK) Architects of Atlanta, followed by the work of a LifeWay employee team, including Davis Byrd, director of LifeWay’s church architecture department, and the Nashville architectural firm of Hart Freeland Roberts, Inc.
The plan includes:
— relocating and equipping the distribution center for undated materials to a leased site in the Nashville area.
— constructing a three-level parking garage and cafeteria adjacent to the north side of the west wing on what is now a surface parking lot.
— constructing a new main entrance for LifeWay, as well as circulation corridors along the north facade of the west wing.
— remodeling and equipping the vacated warehouse space for offices.
— remodeling the Sullivan Tower and north wing buildings, as well as portions of the west wing and existing office space in the operations building.
Warehouse and distribution facilities for quarterly and monthly publications will remain in the downtown complex.
The addition of the cafeteria, walkways and lobby will increase floor space by 40,000 square feet. The garage will be approximately 250,000 square feet, providing approximately 450 additional parking spaces.
Presently LifeWay has more than 1 million square feet of floor space. The Sullivan Tower was completed in 1940 as a basement and two-story facility, with nine more floors added from 1950 to 1953. The six-story north wing was constructed in 1922, with a structure connecting it to the Sullivan Tower built in 1960. A three-story building, now known as the west wing, was built in 1922, with two additional floors completed in 1974. The operations building was completed in 1959. Other buildings in the downtown Nashville complex include the Frost Building, completed in 1913, and the Centennial Tower, completed in 1990.
Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, in a prepared statement, said:
“Since 1891, LifeWay Christian Resources has been an anchor in our downtown, both physically and spiritually. The decision to continue LifeWay’s commitment to Nashville by updating and expanding its complex is an exciting one. I’m pleased LifeWay will continue to be a major contributor to the vitality of our central business district.”
Among factors contributing to the master plan are:
— LifeWay’s existing office space is almost filled to capacity.
— Parking is available for only 72 percent of employees.
— The present 125-seat cafeteria is inadequate for a total work force of 1,658 full-time, part-time and temporary employees.
— Inadequate warehouse space had necessitated leasing 65,000 square feet of space, and the current facility’s low ceiling height and close-column spacing is inefficient for operations.
— The current complex is inadequate for employee and visitor circulation with narrow main corridors, and it also presents visitor access problems.
Funding for the project will come from LifeWay’s reserve fund earnings, supplemented as needed by reserve funds, budgeted fixed assets, or external funding sources, whichever is most favorable, Shull said.
Relocation of the warehouse is expected by early 2000, with remodeling of vacated space into offices anticipated in 2000.
Construction on the parking garage, cafeteria and new entrance is expected to begin in the spring of 2000 and will be completed by late 2001. Remodeling present office buildings will be finished by 2005.
LifeWay is among the world’s largest publishers of religious materials, producing approximately 180 monthly and quarterly products and 1,500 other products annually. LifeWay has available approximately 4,300 products it has produced in addition to monthly and quarterly periodicals. The agency has never received Cooperative Program funds, but is self-supporting through the sale of resources. Income above operating expenses is returned to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and worldwide missions efforts.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis