The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, March 1, at 2 pm., for a new, $3 million Program Center at DaySpring Episcopal Center, the diocese’s 97-acre religious and conference center in Parrish, Florida. Designed by Fawley Bryant Architects and constructed by Willis Smith Construction, the 12,500-square-foot center will serve as DaySpring’s primary facility for youth and adult programs, art and music recreation activities, retreats, teaching and worship. The Rt. Rev. Dabney Tyler Smith, Bishop of the diocese, will preside over the groundbreaking ceremony, which will include representatives from the architectural and construction project team. Over 100 Episcopal priests from around the diocese will be in attendance, as well as Episcopalians from all corners of the diocese. The groundbreaking will be followed by a reception and dedication, and all of the day’s events are open to the public.
The new program center replaces an aging portable events building, and represents the first phase of a multi-phase, 10-year DaySpring master development plan, initiated in 2014. Two key amenities of the new center include a 5,000-square-foot multi-use recreation/meeting hall and a 2,000-square-foot pool alongside an outdoor pavilion. Construction for phase one is projected to be complete by fall 2016, with use of the program center to be underway by November. The pool and pavilion are slated for completion in December. The master plan calls for two additional phases which will include construction of a new worship center and residential facilities.
Over 31,000 Episcopalians are a part of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida which stretches from Marco Island north to Brooksville. The 77 congregations and 12 Episcopal schools of the diocese encompass 12 counties in the Tampa Bay area, including the cities of Sarasota, Bradenton, Ft. Myers, Plant City, and Naples.
“DaySpring’s original vision was to create a place to serve the spiritual growth and development of the people of God in the diocese,” said Bishop Smith. “In just 35 years, the vision has been fulfilled and continues to unfold.”
The religious retreat and conference center encompasses 97 acres of “Old Florida” land along the Manatee River, a significant portion of which is home to untouched wildlife. “The architectural design has an emphasis on attention and appreciation to the wildlife areas and nature paths enjoyed by visitors at DaySpring,” said Jedd Heap, project architect. “As a vital centerpiece to the master plan, the environmentally friendly Program Center includes gathering spaces and porches that are covered by the natural overhangs of surrounding trees.” Architects introduced energy reducing measures into the design by using increased wall and roof insulation, insulated glass, LED lighting and highly efficient air conditioning. In addition to the architect and builder, the project team for phase one includes the engineering firms ZNS Engineering, Hees & Associates, and ME3 Consulting Engineers.
The Diocese and its DaySpring Development Committee are implementing the project through a three-part fund-raising plan, which is already under way through a reserve program funded by parishes. “A large portion of the funding for the Phase One project will be contributed by our 77 local churches,” said Anne M. Vickers, canon for administration and chief financial officer for the Diocese, which represents over 30,000 active baptized members. “We are grateful for the participation and support of our diocesan community.”
DaySpring Episcopal Center is located at 8411 25th Street East Parrish, Florida. For more information, visit http://www.dayspringfl.org. Learn more about the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida at episcopalswfl.org.