In 2017, Mount Olivet worked with church consultant, Paul Nixon, to create a strategic plan.
One of the recommendations of that plan was to develop the church's parking lot property in a way that would provide space for expanding the ministry and mission of Mount Olivet and, also fill many of the needs of our community. For the past few years, a task force has been meeting to explore this recommendation. The task force interviewed and chose an architect, Michael Foster, with experience developing projects like this in our area. Michael Foster has met with the task force, Arlington County and leaders in the community to assess potential uses for the property. Michael and his team have developed a conceptual plan for a multi-use project that expands Mount Olivet space, supports many of the needs of our community, retains parking for Mount Olivet and is financially viable without requiring a capital campaign on the part of Mount Olivet. About the Architect, MTFA To help guide Mount Olivet through this initial visioning process for developing the parking lot, we have contracted the services of MTFA Architecture. MTFA’s legacy is rooted in cultural preservation and sustainable design. They embrace a building’s history and environmental context while reconciling the needs of our changing world through resilient innovation and sculptural expression. MTFA’s broad experience across religious, education, commercial, government and preservation will help guide Mount Olivet on our journey to answer - “What is Mount Olivet NOT doing that God is calling us to do?” Survey Results
Results of the congregation-wide (and neighbors) survey regarding the potential development of the parking lot are in.
The Parking Lot Study Committee thanks you for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights about development of the parking lot. Coming soon this year, a series of forums, discussion groups and presentations are being scheduled that will address the topics and questions raised in this survey. In particular: - Experience from other projects - Governance and management - Financing and how the project will NOT require a capital campaign or impact Mount Olivet’s budget - Differentiating the Mount Olivet Community Center as a separate entity from the other operations Survey responses asked a number of key questions about the project. The FAQs on this page are being updated to address the specific questions asked in Question 5.5 (Slide 30). Check back for updates. Sincerely, Chuck Mitchell Study Committee Chair View Survey Results FAQs Why is Mount Olivet pursuing development of the parking lot?
We’ve known for some time that the existing blacktop parking lot may not be the best use of Mount Olivet’s property along Glebe Road. Mount Olivet has discussed many options over the years. We are now exploring options again, focused on whether Mount Olivet can develop the property in a way that sustainably benefits our church and its mission, our neighbors, and the community we serve.
What principles are guiding the process? Church – Any project must be sustaining for Mount Olivet’s mission of spreading God’s love and grace. Neighbors and Community – Whatever we do should provide sustaining support for our neighbors and the community where we live, work, and worship. We are committed to listening and learning as Mt. Olivet discerns the optimal approach. Resources and the Environment - A sustainable development could provide for more productive use of the property than the current asphalt parking lot, while also benefiting the environment. Finances - The current economic climate contains much uncertainty, with economic challenges for church members and the community. Any project should be financially sustainable for the long term, and consistent with the church’s long-term vision and the Mission Statement of the United Methodist Church What is the property used for at the moment?
The current parking lot property provides 152 parking spaces plus 2 for the associate parsonage. Parking lot users include worship attendees and those coming to Church and community activities throughout the week. This large, paved area also provides an open area for informal activities such as youth learning to ride bikes and hone driving/parking skills, a play area, and gathering space. Over the years, many have used the parking lot to attend a variety of weekday and nighttime activities—choir practice, committee meetings, concerts, plays, AA meetings, La Cocina training, community assistance events, Scouts, pre-school drop-off and pick-up, League of Women Voters, Keegan Theater, etc.
What is the history of the current exploration of options to the parking lot?
Starting with acquisition of the property in 1954, members, lay leaders, and church staff have suggested many possible uses, including a youth center, swimming pool, parking garage, green space, and housing. Most of the ideas require funding from the Church community, generally achieved through a capital campaign. With fiscal realities and other timing in mind, Mount Olivet has opted over the years to retain use of the space for parking.
In 2017, the Church Council approved a 3-5 Year Strategic Plan, developed after extensive discussion among church leaders and guided by an outside planning expert. The plan included input from a range of MOUMC stakeholders. The plan was finalized in spring 2018. One of the plan’s recommendations recognized the opportunity to make better use of the parking lot. That recommendation, together with years of earlier discussion, led the Church to form a study group in 2019 to explore options. This was a preliminary process, pursuant to The United Methodist Church (UMC) Book of Discipline (2016), the governing document for United Methodist churches, to assess whether there are viable uses for the property beyond the traditional parking lot. The study group conducted extensive research and brought in a consultant to help assess the best path forward. In May of 2022, Mount Olivet formally commissioned a Parking Lot Study Committee to explore development options in more detail. Why did Mount Olivet need to commission a Parking Lot Study Committee?
As a preliminary effort, the 2019 study group was not able to investigate much beyond concepts and rough ideas. To further explore options, the group needed to be able to talk more with civic associations, neighbors, Arlington County staff and others. In accordance with the UMC Book of Discipline (2016), this scale of information, data-gathering, and potential concept development required the MOUMC congregation’s approval of a Parking Lot Study Committee (the official designation from the Book of Discipline is “Building Committee” because the study involves MOUMC’s property). Now, having received congregation approval and commissioning, members of the Parking Lot Study Committee are proceeding with the next stage of data-gathering and discussions.
What are some potential options identified in the preliminary process for further exploration?
We are very much in ‘listening and learning’ mode, and we recognize other ideas may emerge as we go forward. As it stands now, however, a handful of possible options have been identified: keeping things as they are; building an underground lot with an eco-friendly surface; construction of another church building, together with additional parking; partnering with a developer; selling.Here are more details:
Maintain status quo as a parking lot.In addition to its current uses, the parking lot has also been partially leased to other community entities in the past. From 2003 through 2021, MOUMC leased between 25 and 100 parking spaces for weekday, daytime use. These leases went initially to Marymount University and later to Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) for overflow staff parking. The proceeds went toward the ongoing missions of Mount Olivet and to parking lot regular maintenance, such as repaving. Neither Marymount or VHC now have a requirement for using the parking lot and MOUMC has not been able to find a new user. This could address environmental concerns regarding an asphalt parking lot, such as stormwater runoff.o Underground parking construction costs would be substantial and would require a significant capital campaign. Build underground parking with a green surface. Such an initiative would come with significant costs and require a large capital campaign Construct a small building for Church use only with some surface parking retained and possibly some underground parking, in order to meet Mount Olivet’s needs and Arlington County regulations. . Sell the propertyThe property is a desirable space and would likely present several opportunities for selling for a substantial amount. However, if MOUMC sold the property, it would lose 154 parking spaces and would lose control over how the site is used. Seek partnership in development of the propertyMOUMC could lease the site to a developer for a specified number of years, with MOUMC retaining title to the land throughout the term of the lease, and retaining specific guiding authority for use of the space within Mt. Olivet’s values and mission. What are next steps for the Committee, the congregation and community to voice thoughts and ideas?
The next stage of research includes discussions with congregation members, neighbors, civic organizations, Arlington County staff, consultants, and others. This phase will be about “Listening and Learning” as Mount Olivet assesses its options.
Will the Committee make a final decision on the property?
The Parking Lot Study Committee will further explore options and concepts for action. However, additional authorization by the MOUMC congregation is required to move forward.All ideas at this point are conceptual. Should MOUMC decide to go forward, our decision-making process will be guided by the values and mission of MOUMC, the needs of the community, the cares and concerns of our neighbors, and whether the church can adopt a structure that is financially sustainable for the long term.
What is the timeline for action?
Is the church going to consider traffic flow in the neighborhood?
Yes. Traffic flow will be one of many considerations in discussions with the congregation, Arlington County staff, and the community.
Kindly submit additional questions or comments through
the form at the bottom of this page. Additionally, MOUMC will be scheduling public presentations and meetings with our neighboring civic associations. Announcements of those events will be forthcoming.