April 24, 2014
Dear Hanger Hall Community,
As you know we have been searching for a permanent home for Hanger Hall. Over the past three years, many parents, teachers, board members, committee members, Howard, and myself have toured numerous properties, waiting for “the one” that would be just right for us.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we are under contract to purchase the current Girl Scout property at 64 W.T. Weaver Boulevard. The property consists of two buildings on just about one acre of land and meets many of our wishes, including having an ideal location with access to all major thoroughfares in Asheville and Buncombe County.
Teachers are understandably excited about the proximity to UNCA—we will be within walking distance to the university’s library and other facilities, and there is great potential for partnerships with their faculty. The city greenway directly across the street offers public use land for outdoor PE activities without the responsibility of maintaining the grounds. And we will have easy access to the Botanical Gardens and a water source for a dynamic outdoor science classroom. Moreover, we will have the rare opportunity to customize our new campus to best suit our unique program.
The board is energized not only because this is the right property but also for what it means to the school financially: an opportunity to realize a fixed mortgage cost vs. rent that increases annually, while building equity to provide a stable financial future for the school. Once we own the building outright, a significant portion of our budget will be available for other programs, deferred maintenance, and financial aid.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge the work of our facilities committee. Chaired by Danette Lowery, with Tadd Clarkson, Rachel Fagan, Michele Capel, Donna James, Carol and Carlton Craig, John Evans, Dave Merrifield, and Mark Catoe, this group has devoted immeasurable time and energy to this dream. A big shout out especially to Tadd Clarkson, whose time, expertise, and ability to view spaces in very unique ways has been invaluable as we evaluated site after site over the past three years.
I am attaching an information sheet that I hope addresses some of the many questions I’m sure you have. You should also feel free to call me or stop by the office or reach out to Lisa Yoffee, Anna Hamrick, Tadd Clarkson, Jo Ikelheimer, and Rachel Fagan—current parents on the board who have been in on all the conversations that have led us to this great place. I don’t want to forget Katie Langwell here too; she serves as the board’s faculty liaison and has represented the teacher voice with great ability!
I hope you are as excited about this announcement as we all are. You are part of a significant milestone in Hanger Hall history—realizing the dream of owning our own tipi! And just in time to commemorate our 15th anniversary!
Catherine A. McClain
Head of School
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON BUILDING PURCHASE
Today to June 25th: This 60-day window is our due diligence period, during which we must: have our appraisal, inspection, and a city review to move the property from low- to mid-impact use; identify an architect and contractor; raise a down payment of approximately $300,000; and have final financing in place.
July 25th (approximately): Closing.
July 26th (approximately): Work will immediately commence on the older, vacant building.
September 2014: School begins at Crest Mountain.
October 2014: Girl Scouts vacate the second building and renovations immediately begin on it.
December 2014*: Hanger Hall vacates Crest Mountain and moves into both buildings.
January 2015: Hanger Hall completes the second half of the school year in its new home.
*This is the best case scenario as we realize we are at the mercy of the city and the weather for most of these items
The purchase price is $994,000 and we anticipate another $500,000 – $600,000 in renovation and compliance costs just to move in and begin school. We are still very early in the process and do not have final construction plans as of yet, but we know there are many unique opportunities to explore, from an amphitheatre on the hillside to a functional atrium connecting both buildings! We have been working with a local community bank and have secured a commitment letter. At this time we are seeking a mortgage that will be revenue neutral for the school. We have sent RFPs to ten local banks soliciting term sheets. The best terms will fund up to 85% of the purchase price, with the school required to obtain 15% for the down payment.
We will not increase tuition, beyond our nominal annual increases, to make this purchase. We will not cut any programs to make this purchase.
We must secure through private support and/or a guarantor(s) 15% of the total loan–approximately $300K. We have a fundraising plan in place, but 60 days is a very tight window. If for some reason we cannot meet the 15%, we could lose the property. However, I am confident that our community will pull together and make this happen!
Possible fundraising scenarios: Ideally, we could be gifted the full down payment amount, or an amount close to $300K from one donor. More likely, one or more families could come together and offer to match all other gifts dollar-for-dollar, up to $150,000 until June 20th, the end of our due diligence period. This is an all-inclusive effort to include our early founding alumnae families, current parents, grandparents, and the community. We have developed multiple naming opportunities at various gift levels that I would be happy to discuss with you.
Lease Back & Renovation
The property has two buildings, affording us the opportunity to create a Hanger Hall Campus. The older building is in need of significant upgrades and will be our first priority upon closing.
The sellers, the Girl Scouts, have asked to lease back from Hanger Hall the building they currently occupy while they find their new space. We expect the rent the Girl Scouts will pay us will roughly cover the interest on our loan while we do renovations on the older unoccupied building (we are only expected to pay the interest on the loan while we are in the construction phase). The Girl Scouts will vacate no later than October 15th, with the ability to vacate sooner with 60 days notice. This is good news for us as it may enable us to move in sooner. Alterations to the second property will begin once the Girl Scouts have vacated.
Impact on the 2014-15 School Year
With the timetable outlined above, we will start the 2014-15 school year at Crest Mountain and move during the winter break to minimize disruption on the girls. Our intention here is to avoid paying both rent and mortgage payments simultaneously. We have spoken to our current landlord and are making the necessary changes to our lease to provide us this flexibility.
We will be looking at a variety of community spaces to hold future arts festivals and graduation. We see this venue change as a great way to enhance enjoyment of our arts programming by exploring venues that will provide better acoustics, lighting, and even the possibility of scenery, curtains, and backstage space!