Church moving its offices

St. Peter's Episcopal Cathedral is preparing to redevelop its campus.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE, Times Staff Writer
Published September 2, 2007

St. Peter's Episcopal Cathedral has begun moving its offices across Fourth Street N in preparation for the long-awaited redevelopment of its campus.

Demolition of the cathedral's current administrative and Christian education space is expected to take place toward the end of October. Construction is set to start in February and finish in June 2009.

The congregation at 140 Fourth St. N has been struggling to upgrade its space for about a decade but has hit roadblocks along the way. The most difficult hindrance to the plan has been what to do about the former First Baptist Church sanctuary the cathedral bought in 1990. City officials have been reluctant to allow the historic building to be torn down.

St. Peter's now hopes to sell the former church. It is asking $1.75-million for the landmark property.

The congregation plans to expand its programs and offer new ministries in its new $4.5-million space. The 18,000-square-foot, one-story structure that will replace St. Peter's current office building, parish hall and Cathedral Center for Ministry will house offices, meeting space and fellowship space. The building also will accommodate St. Peter's music program, include a state-of-the-art nursery, a new, larger kitchen, and a dressing area for brides. The building will be connected to St. Peter's historic Gothic revival cathedral, which will remain untouched.

The Very Rev. Dr. Russell Johnson, dean of the cathedral, said he is pleased that the project is becoming a reality.

"It's still bumpy," he said. "We'd like to sell the Baptist sanctuary."

Johnson said the $4.5-million project will allow for additional stories to be added to the new building as the congregation raises the funds. The present plan also will feature "a very flexible floor plan," he said.

In an interesting twist, the property at 201 Fourth St. N that will serve as St. Peter's interim space once belonged to the Episcopal Diocese. After the bishop moved his offices almost 10 years ago, it was purchased by nearby First United Methodist Church, which has given St. Peter's a two-year lease on the two-story building.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at 727-892-2283 or moore@sptimes.com.