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Downtown Orlando church planning new building, renovations

The main congregational hall (left) will be one of the buildings the First Unitarian Church of Orlando will renovate. It is directly across from the sanctuary (right).
The main congregational hall (left) will be one of the buildings the First Unitarian Church of Orlando will renovate. It is directly across from the sanctuary (right).

The century old First Unitarian Church of Orlando is planning to add a fourth building to its E. Robinson Street property in downtown Orlando and will also rehab two of its three existing structures, upping its square footage by one-third.

The church, which takes a "liberal" approach to worship, meaning it draws from many faiths and traditions, wants to put up a building that fronts E. Robinson Street and contains religious education classrooms and community meeting space.

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The 13,856 square foot, one-story structure should raise the church's profile because its existing buildings are set toward the back of the three-acre property, said Christine Hafkins, head of the church's building committee. The new structure would be on top of the 26,542 square feet the church and its existing buildings already occupy.

The First Unitarian Church of Orlando was founded in Orlando in 1912 at the corner of Central Avenue and Rosalind Avenue, a site that is now a 7-11.

The church, which has about 250 congregants, moved to its current quarters, on the north side of E. Robinson Street, between N. Hampton and Altaloma Avenues, in 1954. Between that year and 1962, its congregational center and religious education complex were built.
Given wear and tear over the years, the church is looking into replacing the congregational center's roof and will also be adding adult religious education classrooms.

At the religious education complex, the electrical system will be updated and new windows, floors and ceilings installed.

The church complex's third building, its sanctuary, was built in 1994 and is not in need of renovations, Hafkins said.

The church has budgeted $1.475 million for the new building and renovations and is in the midst of seeking a conditional use permit from the city of Orlando.

How much the building will cost and what is needed for the renovations is still being worked out.

The church is close to reaching its fund raising goal, with $1.32 million pledged by congregants in a little less than a year, Hafkins said.

A final decision about a general contractor has not yet been made, although Interstruct Commercial Construction of Orlando has been helping to guide initial planning.

KTH Architects of Pennsylvania, with a regional office in Orlando, is the project's architect.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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