Construction starts at Unitarian Universalist Church near Federal Building

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church Site

Construction work has started at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church between Oak Ridge Turnpike and the Joe L. Evins Federal Building.

Construction work has started at the site of a new home for the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church near the Joe L. Evins Federal Building.

Hickory Construction Inc., which has headquarters in Alcoa, announced on Thursday that it has broken ground at the 4.6-acre site. The building could be complete by next summer, a press release said.

Hickory will work with Johnson Architecture Inc. to create a larger church building that will give the congregation an extra 3,000 square feet, compared to the current building a few miles down Oak Ridge Turnpike, the press release said. The new church will feature an updated, modern appearance.

In addition to more space, features will include a single slope roof over the sanctuary to create a dramatic space lit by recessed lighting and randomly spaced pendant fixtures; wood-look ceiling tile in the sanctuary, lobby and hearth room; and polished concrete floors throughout much of the building, the release said. Outside, the grounds will have extensive landscaping and accessible paths.

The release said the building’s construction will be a pre-engineered metal with metal stud infill, brick veneer in three colors, and exposed concrete.

“We are very excited,” said David Savoie, president of the ORUUC board of trustees. “One year ago, we were just beginning to think about an RFP process to try to find a design and construction team, and now we have a contract in place with an experienced and trustworthy team to build our new building.”

Congregation members broke ground at the site in July and said they plan to be in their new home by Thanksgiving 2014.

For more than six decades, the congregation of 260 members has been in a heavily used church at the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Robertsville Road. But in a deal arranged by commercial developers Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial, the church agreed in September 2012 to sell that 3.6-acre site to make way for a new Kroger Marketplace shopping center in the heart of the city.

The church’s current property could be used as outparcels, or small lots, at the new $30 million shopping center, which could open next summer.

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