Hey Hillside Family,
As we head into the end of the current school year and look forward to the beginning of another warm South Texas summer, we wanted to give you an update on the status of our facility project. At the beginning of 2021, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot) reached out to us to let us know of their desire to continue the expansion of Highway 281 north. As part of their plan, they need to secure additional property from us along their highway right-of-way. They let us know of a desire to reserve a 180-foot strip of land across the front of our property for future development, even though the project is still years away from approval, funding, and construction. This “reservation” would essentially keep us from developing a significant portion of our highway frontage and require us to set it aside for future purchase. At this point TxDot does not have a detailed plan for development, nor do they know how much land they will need to purchase from us. It could end up being significantly less than the 180-foot reservation they are asking for. On top of that, it could be several years before TxDot has the approval and plans in place to purchase the land and begin work. The reservation gives them the ability to set aside the land without buying it from us until some future date.
TxDot’s involvement in our project created two challenges, which we have had to address over the past few months. The first challenge deals with the location of our buildings and the proposed outdoor community space. In its initial location, our new auditorium and kids building were going to be located near the front of our property. TxDot’s future expansion would bring the highway and future access roads even closer to our buildings and campus footprint. This proximity would create several problems for us. At times, we already struggle with our proximity to highway 281 and any future expansion of the highway closer to our buildings would greatly magnify that problem. Over the past three months, we have been working on a modified site plan that would shift our new construction further away from the highway, without changing the overall building design and footprint. The result of that work was an updated site plan which gives us several benefits. Click the button at the bottom of this article to view the our “Building a Launchpad” webpage to check out the updated site plan.
Several of the major benefits we gain from the updated site plan include:
- Additional square footage: We gain added usable square footage by not having to demolish any of our current buildings. This gives us more than 10,000 additional square feet of usable space for essentially the same price. The additional space (our current auditorium) will be used for our Hillside Student ministry and to support our other various ministry events and activities.
- Not having to relocate during construction: By moving the new construction further west, we will eliminate the need to relocate our Sunday gatherings and other ministry events during construction. This will save us on costs associated with relocating our events offsite and the time and resources needed to effectively relocate. Additionally, not having to relocate and demolish current structures should significantly shorten our construction timelines.
- A better layout for parking: Having an auditorium and new kids building that is moved further west creates a more centralized “campus”, which provides closer and more accessible parking in and around the auditorium area.
- A “future-proofed” site: Although we do not know when exactly TxDot will expand highway 281 or how much land they will purchase from us as part of their right of way, we do know that at some point they will expand. When that happens, we do not want to be forced to embark on another major facility project to relocate structures, parking, and associated infrastructure. Moving our campus further away from highway 281 creates a “future-proofed” campus that will allow us to flex with whatever TxDot ultimately decides to do.
- A warm, welcoming, and inviting campus: Our driving vision for the project is to develop a campus that helps to facilitate our mission of making disciples of Jesus. The modified site plan gives us the ability to create a centralized campus that is hugged by our buildings and associated parking infrastructure. This “hugged” design creates an outdoor community gathering area that is warm, welcoming, and inviting. This area will provide ample space for fellowship and connection within a beautiful Texas Hill Country setting.
The second challenge we faced from TxDot’s involvement in our project was their role in the platting and approval process. Simply put, TxDot’s involvement would essentially link our project to their future expansion, which at this point is highly unknown in terms of actual plans and timeline. This remarkable amount of uncertainty would greatly affect the remaining design work and could potentially hold up the permitting process for several months. To solve this issue, we are working on a solution which would keep TxDot’s plans for future expansion and our facility expansion as separate projects. This would give us the ability to move forward with a future-proofed site while providing an opportunity to work effectively with TxDot when their plans become clearer. We are working with local regulatory bodies (including the cities of Spring Branch and Bulverde, Comal County, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and TxDot) to arrive at a clear resolution. We hope to have the solution finalized within the next several weeks.
All this being said, TxDot’s recent involvement has created several months of additional work and the potential for the entire delay of the project. However, we believe that God remains in control of this project and we are already seeing his hand at work! God has used TxDot’s involvement in an incredible way, as it has led us to the creation of a better site map and campus design! We remain excited to hopefully complete the design work in the next several weeks and move towards construction beginning sometime this summer!
Join us on June 13!
Last but certainly not least, we wanted to invite you to join us on June 13th at 5:30 pm in the auditorium for our “Super Duper Mattering Meeting”. During the meeting we plan to spend time going over the updated site plan, completed design work, discuss plans for financing, and begin working towards membership approval. We also hope to spend time answering questions and listening to any feedback you have. In the meantime, feel free to click the button below to visit our “building a launchpad” webpage for additional information on the project!
– Your Executive Leadership Team