Highland Park Presbyterian Shifts Master Plan

The Hunt Building will be rebuilt to add parking garage, better flow. (Courtesy photo)

Highland Park Presbyterian Church has scrapped initial plans to demolish six adjacent rental homes near Shannon Lane to make way for a 350-spot underground parking garage.

Preliminary plans revealed last year also would have added 35,000 square feet to the campus and renovated interiors, but didn’t align well enough with the church’s long-term vision or deliver enough benefit for the money budgeted.

“It was a nice plan, but what we were finding was, one, it was a lot more expensive than initially expected,” longtime member Ross Coulter said. “We [were] investing a whole chunk of the project to just a stand-alone garage. There was probably a better way to be good stewards of our money.”

There was. A new preliminary plan instead focuses on rebuilding the Hunt Building – the campus’ newest structure.

Coulter, and his wife Juliette Coulter, said issues with the Hunt Building range from a confused entrance space to a dimly lit hall where Sunday’s contemporary worship takes place. While some of the budget from the original plan would have addressed aesthetics in the building, many of its challenges couldn’t be solved due to the building’s configuration.

The new plan still allows the church to address one of its largest problems: parking.

With the rebuild of the Hunt Building, the church will have the opportunity to include a two-floor parking garage under the structure. The garage will add at least 150 parking spaces to a church that owns only three for its 4,700 members.

Juliette said the new plan is more suited to the church’s vision.

Renderings show a complete transformation of Elliott Hall into a bright, fresh, and open room designed to enhance the contemporary worship service. A new stage will sit in front of a window-lined wall that seamlessly blends into the Gothic Revival structure.

A new front door and drop off will create a grand entrance into the Hunt Building, and a patio along University Boulevard will echo the one in front of the main sanctuary.

The entrance will lead into a large, light-filled gathering space where a two-story mezzanine will create a welcoming area where guests can gather and fellowship.

The picturesque setting will nearly be mirrored in the Highland Kids Ministry building.  In the Bell Center for middle school and high school students, movable walls will enable the space to flex from three rooms to one large room.

Outside, the dated porte-cochere will be torn down, and the drop off location will be moved to Shannon Lane, creating a new, safer drop-off location on the west side of the building.

The proposed $73 million renovation also will create straight, widened connections throughout the campus.

“This is so much better suited for what we want to do,” Juliette said about the better blend of the campus. “This is for all generations. It is important that all generation interact from young to old.”

Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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