Board of Trustees of Saint Sava Cathedral
Communication to the Parish
October 22, 2021
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our parishioners of Saint Sava Cathedral in New York:
We are writing, once again, to update you on events transpiring at Saint Sava Cathedral.
We, the Board of Trustees of Saint Sava Cathedral (BOT), previously wrote to you to inform you that Phase I, the emergency situation, to stabilize the magnificent standing walls, and secure and protect from further deterioration of our Cathedral after the tragic fire, has been completed. As you know, for this effort, St. Sava was awarded the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Award from the Landmarks Commission, which the Commission itself calls the Oscars for landmark preservation.
Cathedral Renovation Current Status
Upon Diocesan Administrative Board (DAB) recommendation and reaffirmation of the BOT’s role, we are now at the stage of consolidating documentation to obtain a closeout of this Phase I work with the Department of Buildings (DOB), the NYC Landmarks Commission, and other agencies. Substantial progress has been made in this regard to date.
In our previous informational session, we informed you that we were starting the process of interviewing Independent Owner Representative Firms and were reviewing proposals submitted pursuant to our Request for Proposals (RFP) by reputable architectural firms, all on the Landmarks Commission list.
Since that time, we interviewed 4 reputable independent Owner Representative firms to provide us with the expertise necessary to close out the completed Phase I. After review with the DAB for the need for such a firm, and their reaffirmation of our authority to act, Zubatkin Construction Consultants were selected for this limited engagement based on price, the depth of their experience in church reconstruction, and their submission for the Owner Representative role. Zubatkin is reviewing all documentation of the work completed to date, expenses paid, what is outstanding, and what needs to be closed out from a legal and DOB perspective to position us for future phases in rebuilding our Cathedral to completion. Multiple review sessions have been held with Zubatkin and progress has been made on closeouts with the DOB, Landmarks Commission, and the consultant sign-offs.
Six proposals were submitted by some of the most prestigious architectural firms in the United States, all with experience in church renovations, following tours of our Cathedral given by the BOT and Fr. Milan, and in response to the RFP drafted by the BOT. A revised and updated RFP from the September 2020 version for architects was re-sent to the 6 qualified firms and responses were returned to the BOT and RFP Committee. In accordance with our By-Laws/Uniform Rules/Constitution and the directive of the DAB, the BOT has recommended to the Bishop and to the Diocesan Council for the Eastern American Diocese (DC) for their consideration at their next meeting, which will be scheduled in due time, that the BOT continues discussions with three selected firms, out of the six firms. We will await the DC’s response and advice as to the next steps. It is difficult, if not impossible, at this juncture to estimate accurately the total cost to rebuild our Cathedral to completion. Architects have only given us preliminary figures for their fees, but the actual re-construction costs are agreed upon much later in the process depending on the design. A cost analyst specialist in the field should be retained to ensure the best possible cost outcome before any commitments are made.
The draft Purchase and Sale (PSA) agreement with the developer seeking to purchase the air rights for the property next to St. Sava (not over it) for development of an office building has been fully negotiated in principle by Fried Frank Harris, a prominent leading law firm in the US, and our then BOT President, Mr. Zivorad Tomic. Without the sale of the air rights, we could not obtain the critical funds needed to continue with the renovation of St. Sava Cathedral to completion. Per our By-laws, the Uniform Rules, the Constitution, and the laws of the State of New York, such sale will require approval by the membership, the Bishop, the DC, the DOB, the Landmarks Commission, and the Attorney General of the State of New York as in the best interest of all constituent parties, including our parish members. As a first step in going forward with the PSA, a special meeting(s) will be called for St. Sava’s law firm and the BOT to explain the proposal in detail to parishioners and answer questions. A subsequent meeting for the St. Sava parishioners in good standing (members) to vote on the proposal will be held. Only members may vote. Fr. Milan is working diligently to increase and restore our membership. This can also be seen in the increased regular liturgical attendance on Sundays and Feast Days, including by our welcomed young and prospective university students.
Upon completion of these monumental negotiations as to the sale of air rights, the BOT’s President, Mr. Zivorad Tomic, announced that he will step away from the BOT President role due to enormous time commitments expended and a need to now focus on his business, but will continue in service to the St. Sava Parish on the PSA and in other capacities as needed, including any transition and for continuity. Mr. Zoran Lazarevic accepted the position of BOT President as recommended by Fr. Milan and approved by His Grace Bishop Irinej and the DAB. Zoran, who is well known to our community, has previously served on St. Sava boards and as President of the audit committee. Mrs. Lydia Nikolic has stepped down as the BOT Treasurer owing to increasing work responsibilities and has offered to continue to serve the St. Sava Parish in the role of Member-at-Large, as needed. Upon Fr. Milan’s recommendation, Mr. Brane Pantovic was appointed for the position of Treasurer by His Grace and the DAB. Mr. Pantovic is a financial professional, and member of our church choir.
Ongoing Operations of St. Sava Campus
As with all churches in the US, the ongoing operation of the Cathedral and its campus is being carried out per a budget we submitted on a standard form to, and which budget was approved by, the DAB. Similarly, as with all our US churches, St. Sava operations underwent its annual audit in March with no significant issues found.
A review of the Cathedral roof and windows was conducted by the Phase I contractor, GPJO; some minor issues were found and will be addressed.
The fallen exterior brownstone pile on the west side of the church was moved by 2 member volunteers from the parking lot property to the Cathedral property for safety.
The scaffolding that surrounds the Cathedral (as mandated by the DOB to provide a safety zone around the Church) was inspected and repaired by Consolidated Scaffolding (the leasing agent). This scaffolding can only be removed after the outside repairs are approved by the Landmarks Preservation Committee, and restoration work is completed and inspected by the DOB.
We have rented 5 parking spaces to our neighbor Kew Management, which requested to access our eastern driveway to make repairs to their adjacent building. All insurances were reviewed and filed.
New rental leases were drafted by attorneys at Belkin, Burden, Goldman LLP for the 3 tenants that live in the apartment building.
The bad weather in the winter of 2020-2021 and ongoing deterioration of the apartment building made it necessary for us to find a Superintendent who would be able to perform a wider scope of services and would be bi-lingual. Mr. Vladimir Petrovic was hired by the BOT as the new Superintendent, providing services for the campus such as sidewalk cleaning and patching, fence maintenance, and minor repairs. Part of his compensation is an apartment in the Apartment building. As Vladimir is a licensed technician, he can carry out certain repairs for a time and materials fee, or coordinate with and supervise trade specialists.
Necessary work is being done in the apartment building, including repairs to the boiler and steam distribution, upgrades to some of the leaking radiators, one toilet replacement, plaster repair, and the organization of apartment 1R.
New security cameras were purchased and installed at the apartment building after some vandalism occurred in the lobby. The cameras are wireless and the images are recorded on a drive.
The BOT received the current year updates for building insurance on the 3 properties. These updates were reviewed by the Church’s Insurance adviser, Nicole Katz, approved, bonded, and paid for the upcoming year.
St. Sava was notified by Associated Press and Reuters News that it infringed on “copyrights” of photos in 2016 on its website. The BOT resolved this issue and negotiated a reduced penalty.
St. Sava was notified by the DOB that it was in violation of Local Law 84 since 2016 (the law passed in 2016 requiring the submittal of an Energy Report). The fine was paid, and an Electrical Engineer is drafting the “benchmarking report” that should be completed by the end of this quarter and submitted to the DOB.
The Church School and Language programs are starting.
Dear parishioners, there is a myriad of other issues which crop up in running our substantial St. Sava complex and which we, as unpaid volunteers, and Father Milan deal with daily despite our full-time jobs and family commitments. If anyone would like to volunteer to help, please let Father Milan know. We welcome all and have offered to work with all. Threats of lawsuits and cease and desist letters from anonymous persons hiding behind a lawyer is counterproductive to the end goal we all want: a return to services in our rebuilt Cathedral.
Kindly direct any questions to us at St Sava’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and please consider becoming a member of our ever-increasing Cathedral parish family.
The Board of Trustees of Saint Sava Cathedral in New York
Mr. Zoran Lazarevic, the President of the BOT, will be available for your
questions or concerns regarding the reconstruction of the Cathedral
on SUNDAY, October 24th, 2021,
right after Divine Liturgy, which is going to start at 10 AM.
 As you are aware, the Diocesan Administrative Board (DAB) is composed of members of the larger governing body in our diocese, the Diocesan Council for the Eastern American Diocese (DC). The members of the DC are lay and clergy elected at the annual Diocesan Assembly to represent our parishes from the entire Eastern Diocese in the US. Decisions by the DAB are reviewed and ratified at regularly scheduled meetings of the DC, or matters may be brought directly to the DC at a regular or special meeting.