South Main's RFP

Published January 17, 2024 by Campus Master Plan Task Force

Your Campus Master Plan Task Force (CMPTF) has been hard at work as we continue through the master planning process. As always, the goals that drive us in all decisions are:

  • 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 of numerical growth in an organic way

We have received and are evaluating proposals from potential master planning architecture firms and wanted to give you context for this stage of the process and outline what this stage looks like.

To catch you up, at the October Business Meeting the task force shared where we were in the master plan planning process. At that time, details were being finalized by Merriman Holt Powell (MHP), an architecture firm we hired to do an analysis of space needed by South Main for “church purposes.” 

This process included measuring all rooms, green spaces, and parking areas on campus, calculating the square footage being used by current church programs and storage, and to facilitate meetings with current staff and lay leaders about what “dreams” we may have for different church-related spaces and programming in the future. 

From that thorough work, MHP created a parking and church space planning analysis to inform the master plan. This permitted South Main to move to the next step of creating and sending a Request for Proposal (RFP) to different architecture firms who could potentially design our overall campus master plan.

In November and December, the CMPTF along with its advisors Transwestern Development Corporation (TDC) and HR&A Advisors (HR&A) compiled a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP) and sent it to 5 prospective architecture firms. 

What is an RFP, and what was included in our RFP?

A RFP is a document that is sent to potential advisors or suppliers to describe a particular need or project and request input from those advisors or suppliers on how they would address that need or project, and what their proposed timeline, staffing and costs to do this work is. For South Main’s RFP, we included the following information.

Description, Background, and Vision of the Site

This gives an overview of the potential site along with necessary information on the current status of the project, work that has been done so far, and information on the stakeholders of the project. It also provides goals and requirements for the site and sets consistent parameters for the project that all responding firms should follow.

South Main’s RFP

We included information regarding

  • Importance of South Main’s Kingdom work and our role/location in Midtown Houston
  • What is happening in area around South Main (ION District, METRO plans, TxDOT highway projects, Peggy’s Point acquisition)
  •  List of prioritized “Non-Negotiables,” which included increasing church visibility, preserving Sanctuary, adequate space for mission of church, incorporating signature fountain into final plan, and sufficient green space among other items
  • CMPTF goals/vision as well as desired outcomes from the project, such as foster community relationships, inviting for people in the surrounding areas, excellence of design for public spaces and programming areas, and be a ‘Monday-to-Sunday’ destination that is fully integrated in its surroundings 

Design Guidelines

This section includes what highlights of development assets could be included on the site and describes the phasing and timeline restraints of the project. It also outlines the scope of what is required by South Main to be included in the project, i.e., building updates, space needs, parking needs. It can also include additional information about the surrounding neighborhood and areas that may be pertinent to the project.

South Main’s RFP

We asked for proposals with multiple scenarios displaying how commercial development and Church facilities can complement one another, while also keeping in mind the need for phasing of the development. All scenarios should include various types of developments – office, retail and residential spaces, and open space/parks without compromising pedestrian space that would impede integration with the surrounding area. We referenced the multiple street and utility easements that crisscross our campus and stated that these would need to be addressed. 

Primary goals in this section include:

  • Flexibility in allowing the Church to establish multiple scenarios for the amount of space needed for programming in the future (although this specific RFP is not asking for design work specific to Church needs but rather to overall campus master plan).
  • Flexibility to respond to current and future real estate and capital market cycles.
  • Phasing development projects to minimize impacts on South Main programming/mission work.

Proposal Criteria

Ordinarily, this section outlines responsibilities of the responding architecture firm, deliverables, personnel information, draft schedule information, fee details, evaluation criteria, and a comprehensive design resumé of the firm. This allows all firms to provide the same information and consistent evaluation.

South Main’s RFP

  • Architecture Firm Responsibilities – responsible for overall master planning and design tone of the project. Includes requirements to develop and examine site planning for the Church and future commercial use based on the criteria outlined in the RFP, study view corridors and access to sunlight, parcel flexibility and shared parking infrastructure, and construction phasing options.
  • Sub-consultants – outline sub-consultants the firm believes need to be engaged for the project and specific recommendations for work in Houston.
  • Preliminary Schedule – schedule for overall design process and meetings based on the responsibilities outlined.
  • Fee Proposal – breakdown of proposed fee including total amount, reimbursables to the firm, deliverables provided by third parties, and hourly rates for any additional services.
  • Comprehensive Design Resume – request to provide information to help South Main evaluate what components in future design work (assuming campus master plan is approved) for which the firm may be qualified.
  • Evaluation Criteria & Submission – the proposal will be evaluated on the following criteria: project understanding, team experience, organizational experience, and fee.

Status of RFP Process 

The CMPTF and its advisors identified 5 nationally-known architecture firms for our RFP to receive our RFP: HKS, SHoP Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle, Nelsen Partners, and Kohn Pederson Fox. All 5 firms have responded to our RFP, and we, along with our advisors, are evaluating those responses now based on the above criteria. Our plan is to select the Master Planning firm in the next few weeks, so be in prayer for the task force as we discern the best partner for this important project.