Project 2020 Narthex Renovation: August 2019 Update

The following Q&A summarizes the information shared at the most recent Project 2020 Townhall held on Sunday, August 11, 2019. Another update on the project’s fundraising and design progress will be shared at the next Project 2020 Townhall on Sunday, September 15.

Please note that specific details are still being discussed and determined. If you have questions about the architectural or design plans, please email Bill Acker at

Narthex Renovation Rendering as of August 2019

19_0809 Narthex Portico Rendering_Gabled.jpg

Narthex Renovation: Q&A Update

Q: Where are we budget-wise?

Actual money currently in hand for the Project 2020 Renovation is over $500,000. When taking into account upcoming pledges that have not yet been received, we are within $40,000 of the $650,000 fully funded budget goal.

Q: Is there any financial back-up support or contingency if the pledges and/or balance needed for full funding does not come through by the time construction starts? And, God forbid, what happens if there ends up being cost overruns on the project?

There currently is a little over $500,000 in a separate Saint Nicholas Building Fund that continues to grow through annual Greek Festival profits and other sources. It is certainly not the intent to dip into this fund, as there are several other badly needed improvements at the church to be done after the Narthex Renovation is completed. But like a good insurance policy, it is reassuring to know there is a back-up fund available if needed.

Q: Why does the Narthex Renovation cost so much?

The $650,000 allocated budget includes more than just a building contractor’s low bid to do the Narthex Renovation work, which is but a part of the total project cost. The composite Narthex Renovation budget can be broken out into three major components:

  1. $110,000 Pre-Construction Costs, listed in rounded dollars:

  • $50,000 for Architect Fees

  • $15,000 for Architectural Contract Administration

  • $10,000 for Civil Engineering & Landscape Architect Fees

  • $5,000 for Structural Engineer’s Fees

  • $5,000 for Mechanical & Electrical Engineer’s Fees

  • $12,000 for Permits & Fees

  • $3,000 for Third Party Testing as Required

  • $10,000 for Contingency

2. $140,000 Site Improvement Costs, listed in rounded dollars:

  • $110,000 for Site Improvement Construction Costs

  • $15,000 for Site Improvements Contingency

  • $15,000 for Site Improvements Sales Tax

3. $400,000 Narthex Renovation Costs, listed in rounded dollars:

  • $330,000 for Narthex Renovation Construction Costs

  • $35,000 for Narthex Renovation Contingency

  • $35,000 for Narthex Renovation Sales Tax

Q: What happens with the excess money if the Renovation comes in under budget?

Following the precedence of other previous projects, any budgeted money left over after successful completion goes into the general Saint Nicholas Building Fund.

Q: What has been done to date?

A General Assembly on June 2, 2019, approved $110,000 to fund pre-construction work that will cover Narthex Renovation design, permitting, and competitive bidding. These are prerequisites that must be done before actual field construction may occur. Since then an architect and a supplemental design team of engineers and consultants have been selected. Demetriou Architects, the architect of record, started initial design in July. Some preliminary drawings and a rendering are on display in the lower hall of the church.

Q: Who is Demetriou Architects and how were they selected?

Zach Karanasos works with the husband of architect Michelle Cozza of Demetriou Architects, which is how the connection was made. Michelle is a parish member of the Holy Assumption Church in Seattle, and she was the project architect of a major addition and renovation there a few years ago. Upon vetting, she came across as being sharp, pragmatic, easy to work with, and knowledgeable of Byzantine architecture. Her father, Vassos, is the head of the firm that George Pirotis has at least indirectly worked with in the past and has a favorable impression of. With their design fee proposal being within budget, and evidence that they would beadaptable to some specific requests, it became a near no-brainer to select Demetriou Architects as the lead project designer.

Q: What is the general sequencing of the Narthex Renovation?

The end game is to have the Narthex Renovation fully complete and in use before the 2020 Greek Festival. With that in mind, below is the general design and construction schedule:

  • June 2, 2019: General Assembly presentation and approval to allow the funding and commencement of design and permitting for the Narthex Renovation. Status: Approved.

  • June 3-July 1, 2019: Selection of a project architect and other design team consultants. Status: Done.

  • July 2-October 20, 2019: Development of design documents, drawings and renderings, plus three townhall presentations to the parish to update, comment, review and assess. Status: In progress.

  • October 27, 2019: Final General Assembly approval of design. Also, a request that the $540,000 balance of the $650,000 budget be presented for approval, so as to assure the contractor bidding and construction process in the upcoming year will not be hindered.

  • October 30-November 18, 2019: Submittal to the Metropolitan for approval, and refinements afterwards if required.

  • November 19, 2019-March 16, 2020: Construction documents submitted to the City of Tacoma for permit approval, allowing three months plus some contingency.

  • March 2, 2020: Construction documents to be ready for contractor bidding, with or without permit approval.

  • March 2-March 31, 2020: Contractor solicitation and bidding.

  • March 31-April 6, 2020: Contractor bids due, and owner review afterwards.

  • April 6-17, 2020: Contractor award and mobilization, with a notice-to-proceed (field construction start) issued for Monday, April 27, one full week after Pascha.

  • April 27-August 31, 2020: Onsite field construction, from notice-to-proceed to substantial completion.

  • August 31-September 14, 2020: Punchlist work and full final completion.

Q: Who is, and has been, in charge of the Narthex Renovation design?

With the intent to keep with Byzantine architecture as much as feasible, an in-house Design Committee consisting of Father Seraphim, Dr. Nicholas Themelis, and Bill Acker was formed last year. They are and have been accountable to the Building Committee and the Parish Council, though the final approval will ultimately be coming from the Parish, and the Metropolitan and the Metropolis Architecture Committee.

Q: Is there going to be interference with church operations during construction?

Yes. First the main Narthex area will be closed off during construction work, with a temporary barrier wall is installed in the large interior Narthex opening that leads into the space between two stairwells outside the Sanctuary. Any public space in use is required by code to have at least two exits, one of which must be ADA compliant. With a chairlift now installed, one of the two stairwells may or may not end up being considered ADA compliant for building permitting purposes. If not, a temporary ADA ramp may have to be installed at the south exterior stair exit outside the Sanctuary. Public access to the Upper Hall and adjoining upper floor restrooms will require two exits as well, which may limit their practical use during weekdays. These are details to work out and clarify during the design process.

Q: Please remind me what specifically is wrong with the Narthex?

Beyond the obvious dingy interiors that are hard to miss when walking into the Narthex space, other significant flaws are:

  1. The roof barrels over the Narthex entry are in a state of rot and decay.

  2. The roof barrels now slope towards Yakima Avenue due to structural settlement.

  3. Roof structures beyond the roof barrels have no drainage slope, causing puddling.

  4. The Narthex was built with economy in mind, and is showing its dated wear-and-tear.

  5. For the last 1-2 years there have been consistent roof leak drips over our blessed Saint Nicholas icon, which after several roof patch attempts, continues to drip.

In short, the Narthex is living on borrowed time, which without major renovation, will continue to creep slowly towards a critical mass.

Q: Why are site improvements part the Narthex Renovation work?

Answer: The City of Tacoma has stipulated that a series of street repairs and improvements must be done as part of the Narthex Renovation work if a building permit is to be issued.

Q: What all do the street improvements consist of?

The primary scope components are:

  1. Replacing portions of street curbing and sidewalks around three sides of the site perimeter deemed to be “damaged.” This includes nearly all existing sidewalks that run along 16th Street at the south side of the church.

  2. Replacing driveway entries with new concrete paving at each end of an existing alley that runs along the east property line of St. Nicholas.

  3. An asphalt paving strip between the 16th Street curbing and sidewalk, which is commonly used as supplemental parking by parishioners, is to be removed and replaced with landscaping.

Q: What is involved in the Narthex Renovation itself?

Basically the existing Narthex space gets gutted down to the existing floor structure and replaced. Among other things included in the renovation scope are:

  • A completely replaced roof structure over the Narthex where the roof barrels are.

  • An extended roof overhang over the main entrance outside stairs, supported with masonry that will have arched openings and architectural trim accents.

  • Ornamental security fencing at the Narthex outside entry.

  • All new roofing with R-49 rigid insulation; from the south side of Father Seraphim’s office to the north end of the Upper Hall restrooms.

  • All new brick veneer, matching that of the Sanctuary, starting from Father Seraphim’s office and ending at the north side of the Upper Hall restrooms, with some special trim and accents at the main entry front face.

  • All new exterior doors and windows, including at Father Seraphim’s office.

  • All new painted wall and ceiling finishes in the Narthex area. No new iconography is included in the scope of work.

  • New mosaic tile flooring and base in the Narthex, extending to the interior Sanctuary doorway entrance, similar to that in the Sanctuary and Father Seraphim’s office. No new carpet is included, and flooring at the stairwells remain as-is.

  • The interiors in Father Seraphim’s office and the Upper Hall restrooms for the most part remain as-is as much as feasible.

  • New heating and cooling in Father Seraphim’s office, and replaced baseboard heat in the Narthex.

  • All new lighting and electrical in the Narthex.

  • Premiums to maintain access to the Sanctuary space and interior stairwells while construction work takes place.