PARRISH -- The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida is planning $20 million in improvements over the next 10 years to its DaySpring Conference Center in Parrish.
The upgrade is intended to modernize the center, including demolishing some 30-year-old buildings, and adding new facilities.
Work would be tackled in three phases, starting in January or February on the children's portion of the heavily forested 97-acre campus, said Anne Vickers, chief financial officer for the diocese and DaySpring.
The first phase, which would include the addition of a swimming pool and 13,700-square-foot program center, would cost about $5 million.
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The DaySpring project is working its way through the permitting process, and Manatee County staff have until Oct. 14 to complete their comments. The project will require a public hearing.
DaySpring, 8411 25th St. E., is on the north shore of the Manatee River. Under plans developed by consultant Kaleidoscope Inc. of Westerville, Ohio, the river would no longer be so hidden from the rest of the campus.
Other highlights include demolishing four cabins and replacing them with a pair of two-story lodges for adults totaling 26,340 square feet, converting the Hall House into a nature program center and adding a new 14,805-square-foot meeting center and parking.
Total square footage under roof would increase 25,438, according to documents filed with Manatee County.
Even though facilities will be improved and expanded, the number of visitors to the center are expected to change little, diocese officials said.
"The master plan is not intended to increase the number of visitors, but to enhance the experience," according to the diocese application.
Conference center use is evenly split between adults and children. Many groups have no affiliation with the Episcopal Church.
"DaySpring is a nonprofit that can serve nonprofits. A large part of our business is nonprofits not affiliated with the church," Vickers said.
A diverse number of groups use the facility, ranging from collegiate rowers, quilters, school groups, the YMCA, band camp and yoga camp.
Beds at the center would increase from 300 to 328, but about half of those who use the facility do not stay overnight.
Diocese officials seem especially excited about the addition of a swimming pool and expanded facilities to improve the summer camp experience for children.
The first phase of construction will take about 14 months to complete. A clear timeline beyond that was not available Wednesday.
"Phase II is open-ended now," Vickers said.
Starting in 2014, Kaleidoscope led diocese workshops to develop plans for modernizing the retreat. The retreat master plan was last previously visited 15 years ago,
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1. Matt Johnson, Herald business reporter, contributed to this story.