Campus Master Plan Task Force Update

Published November 1, 2023 by Campus Master Plan Task Force

Greetings from your CMP Task Force!

At each Task Force meeting, our chair, Clint Pasche, reminds us of the goals which guide our work. We thought it would be a good idea to remind you, our church family, of these as well. In the coming weeks, we will share status reports and interesting findings we have learned on our journey so far. You can review our goals and answers to some basic questions below!

Campus Master Plan Task Force Goals

  • Be the best stewards of the campus entrusted to us.
  • Develop our campus to generate income for future campus improvements and Kingdom work.
  • Increase our effectiveness and our visibility to the community.
  • Embody the Gospel in the context of our time and place.
  • Remain focused on our strategic need for numerical growth in an organic way.

What is a master plan?

A master plan is a long-term planning document that guides future development and explores the ‘highest and best uses’ of each parcel of land. In the context of South Main, a campus master plan would guide how we best use our property for church purposes — including buildings, greenspaces, utilities, parking, etc. — and how we could further God’s Kingdom by creating revenue streams from portions of the property not utilized by the church to both fund SMBC capital projects (including possible new buildings, renovations, etc.) and future kingdom work (the missions and ministries of South Main).

Why are we talking about doing this now?

Over the last twenty years, the commercial value of South Main’s property has increased significantly. While this follows a general trend of increasing values in central urban areas, it is especially true for our corner of Midtown. Just across the street, Rice Management Company is developing the 16-acre Ion District, a walkable, mixed-use project built around The Ion innovation hub located in the old Sears Building.

This new interest in our intersection presents a great opportunity for South Main to consider what God’s plans are for us as a congregation, and what dreams we have that are in accordance with those plans, particularly related to missions and ministries of South Main, and the facilities in which we Worship, Discover, and Share.

Who will create the SMBC Campus Master Plan?

The task force has identified HR&A Advisors to serve as our client-side advisor. HR&A is a well-known national firm that has handled a number of notable projects including Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan along with significant projects in Houston including The Ion District, the Menil Collection, and the Buffalo Bayou East redevelopment project.

In particular, HR&A has been a planning partner on The Ion District since its early days. They have been studying our intersection for the better part of five years and have a close working knowledge of Rice Management Company’s ambitions for their site and the broader Midtown neighborhood. We believe this unique insight serves as a key advantage to our process.

Transwestern Development Company (TDC) is the preferred master plan manager for this project, and has been an informal advisor to the staff for several years, well before the formation of the Campus Master Plan Task Force. TDC is a large national development firm headquartered in Houston that has developed more than 150 projects around the county valued at more than $9 billion. We believe their deep knowledge of the Houston market and relationship with builders in Houston give them a unique insight into what sort of development would be most successful on our property.

Where are we in the overall master planning process?

We initially worked with HR&A and TDC to build upon the initial work of the task force and to ensure we were ready to successfully engage in the planning process. Then we engaged the architects at Merriman Holt Powell to analyze our future building and parking needs. This exercise included interviews with staff and laypeople. This part of Phase 1 should be complete this month. At the same time, we are developing an RFP for the Master Plan work which should be sent out for bid soon.