Over the past decade the Montreat Conference Center has worked to renovate its group lodging spaces on campus. While several of its older lodges were updated, extensive study revealed the need and the opportunity to build a new lodge to offer better housing in the summer season and attract more church groups and retreats in the fall, winter, and spring. After reviewing different options, the conference center chose a central location on Assembly Drive with enough space to accommodate a new lodge. In the spring of 2020, the MRA Board voted to consult with Samsel Architects to develop a conceptual design, with feedback from the staff and other stakeholders; the following November, the Board approved Samsel’s conceptual design.
In January of 2021, as the project transitioned from its conceptual phase to schematic design, Conference Center President Richard DuBose began meeting with neighbors to discuss the project. The project remains in the schematic design phase as gathered feedback from neighbors is forwarded back to architects to update the design. The aim is to ensure that the proposed new lodge will meet its hospitality and program goals while being an attractive addition to the conference center’s campus in the heart of Montreat.
Update from the MRA Board of Directors
(as of 3/16/2021)
The Montreat Conference Center’s Board of Directors met over the past two days, during which the proposed project for a new lodge on Assembly Drive was discussed in detail.
Board members acknowledged and sympathized with the concerns that had been expressed by nearby property owners through prior emails and conversations over the past few weeks. As one of our members stated, “The board has certainly heard the voices and hearts of several cottagers living in proximity of the proposed lodge. We have also listened to the voices and hearts of the team that is working so diligently to care for the mission and ministry to encounter God.”
Coming out of those discussions, the following decisions were made:
- Communication: The board appointed a task force, including members of the board’s executive committee and four additional board members (all cottagers), to serve as the board’s representatives during the process. Further, the board set up an email address to receive written community input (email@example.com); the task force will collect and review those communications. Further, the board instructed MRA staff to arrange a listening session for task force members to meet directly with neighbors. That session should be scheduled before the end of March. The purpose of the session will be to discuss the project in detail and to listen and hear concerns openly and completely.
- Site: After a review of alternatives and the process of the site’s selection, the board affirmed that the current site remains the preferred option for development, as it best meets the conference center’s missional goals. The board remains open, however, to new ideas that might arise from continued dialogue and from the schematic design process.
- Design: The board is extending the schematic design process to allow for further neighbor input. The board directed the design team – including architects, staff, and volunteers – to remain open to community suggestions during the schematic design process. Further, the board committed to 1) investing in a traffic impact analysis to understand and mitigate issues relating to potential concerns that development of the site might create; 2) the pursuit of a sustainable design designation, with a goal of achieving a LEED certification (or one of comparable significance); and 3) employing an acoustical consultant to understand and mitigate issues related to environmental noise.
Finally, the board is committed to keeping everyone informed as we move forward in the process. Thank you so much for your communication with the board. We look forward to further conversations with you.
Chair, MRA Board of Directors
Frequently Asked Questions
(as of 3/16/2021)