Click Here to download the latest Renovation & Capital Campaign FAQ!
Is a restoration of the church and rectory façade being considered instead of a remodel? What would a restoration cost?
In the Kincannon Studios study that was done in Summer 2013, the proposal was to replace the limestone just as it was when constructed. Limestone would be removed, faulty anchors and any other structural elements necessary would be replaced, and limestone would be returned. The estimated cost was between $2,849,575 and $3,674,593, depending upon how many sides of the buildings were to be restored. This was based on architectural estimates, not contractor bidding. Also the study did not determine how much of the existing stone could be reused after removal and how much new stone would need to be quarried. Some existing limestone that has not suffered from spalling may break during the façade removal. Also extensive labor will be involved in cleaning the removed limestone and preparing it to be reinstalled by treating it against future mold growth and discoloration.
Also, we have not yet checked to see if the mastic on the back of the limestone blocks contains asbestos. Most of the builders we have spoken with assume we that we do have asbestos behind the façade of the church, given the age of our building, and this will require remediation at an additional expense. We will have to address asbestos no matter what we replace the crumbling façade with, but knowing this, disposal of the old limestone may be a more cost effective solution than cleaning and preparing it for reuse.
The property committee will continue to look at this, but for the reasons given above, the assumption is that re-using the limestone would not save us any significant amount of money.
Additionally, if we simply restore the existing exterior façade, we will end up with the same nondescript building we now have that people continually fail to notice. Over and over again we have heard of people saying they have gone up and down Guadalupe Street for years, never knowing that St. Austin is here. With the new graduate business school being built across the street and dozens of condos and student housing going up in West Campus, our current visual presence, and therefore opportunity for evangelization, is continually minimized. We would hate to lose this opportunity to establish a dramatic sense of presence on the Drag.