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Athens Church Renovates, Revamps Former Retail Site

Athens Church in Athens, Ga., is a strategic partner of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, where Andy Stanley is lead communicator. According to Richard Chancy with builder Cogun based in North Lima, Ohio, “We began to work with Sean Seay, the lead pastor [at Athens Church], and his team in September of 2009.”

Chancy reports that Cogun was originally selected by the church to conduct a building feasibility study on a former Walmart property (turned Steve and Barry’s retail) in Athens. “The space is 111,000 square feet, which gives the church plenty of room for growth in future phases,” Chancy says.

Steve and Barry’s reportedly purchased the building for $6.4 million, and by the time Athens Church took note of the property, economic conditions allowed them to purchase the building for less than 25% of what Steve and Barry’s paid.

“With our help, they were able to complete 100% of the renovation for less than the sale price of the building a few years prior,” Chancy says.

The Project Team

“Athens Church is a perfect example of what we at Cogun are trying to accomplish when we engage with a church,” says Chancy. “We strive to create a healthy tension between the church (with the vision), [Southeastern-based] LS3P, the architect, (who translates the vision to drawings), and Cogun (who makes sure the vision is affordable). It was plenty of hard work and some challenging moments but we were able to accomplish the goal of getting the church into budget for construction.”

The Renovation

With the help of partners at LS3P, Cogun representatives report renovating 45,188 square feet of the building and including the following ministry spaces:

Waumba Land – For children up to first grade

Upstreet – For Elementary-aged children

Transit – For Middle School kids

Inside Out – For High School students

Worship – The sanctuary was renovated to seat 1,265 people at capacity with an “intimate feel to the room”

Starting Point – A ministry environment for new believers and those seeking answers to their questions about God

Next – An environment to learn more about the church and potential next steps for new attendees

The building, constructed in the 1980s, had many of its original mechanical systems. “To leverage the budget, we chose to handle the replacement of those systems in Phase II,” Chancy reports. “We had our HVAC contractor test and repair 12 of the 22 available systems to meet the demands of Sunday morning worship at a fraction of the cost of replacement. The existing flooring was a high-end vinyl material the church chose to have removed so they could have stained concrete for a more classic feel.”

The Result

When the project began, Athens Church had an attendance of roughly 1,400, with a high in the 1,700s. On June 5, 2011, at the first service, Chancy reports more than 2,000 in attendance.

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