When Church of the Redeemer was built in 1950, its front entrance had a grand view of Sarasota Bay, a welcoming entryway into the church.
That, however, was before Gulfstream Avenue was built, with its cul-de-sac that sits just outside that entrance.
Now the back of the church, along Palm Avenue, is the side that most people see.
“Anyone who wants to see the front of the church has to go out of their way to do so,” said the Rev. Fred Robinson, Church of the Redeemer’s rector. “The project will provide a much more hospitable front.”
Andy Dorr, a 14-year church member and head of its Facility and Capital Projects Committee, agrees.
“The backside is pretty unwelcoming,” he said.
Dorr is now leading an effort, with Apex-Studio architects, Wilson Miller and W.G. Mills, to create a new entryway on Palm Avenue, which church leaders hope will let more people know the church is there and that it is open to the public.
“We are a community facility,” said Dorr. “The Downtown Sarasota Alliance, Al-Anon, musical groups, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts meet there. We want people to know they can use our facilities.”
The church is spending an estimated $300,000 to build a new entry vestibule and covered porch on Palm Avenue. More than $25,000 of the cost will be spent on landscaping — raised planters, in-ground planters and 26-foot-tall oak trees.
The church’s vestry will meet next week to approve the budget and final design.
The project requires two adjustments, because of conflicts with city code. One deals with the fact that it is on a street zoned for retail stores, and the other request is relief from a height requirement. The new addition will be just more than 10 feet high, but city code dictates a minimum of 12 feet.
The Planning Board and City Commission need to OK those adjustments. Barring any problems with those boards, construction is expected to begin in March and be complete by July.
Contact Robin Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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