«08 10 14 BUDGET FAQ SOMA 16 PLANS 3 VISION SOMA’S VISION Soma Tacoma’s vision is to see the gospel saturate the Puget Sound region. We ...»
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING: BUYING A BUILDING FOR SOMA TACOMA
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BUDGET FAQ SOMA
Soma Tacoma’s vision is to see the gospel saturate the Puget Sound region. We prayerfully want every man,
woman, and child to have a daily encounter with Jesus through word and deed. The primary way that we live out this vision is through small groups we call missional communities, where we live as a family, dedicated to serving our neighbors in practical ways, demonstrating and proclaiming the gospel as missionaries. We currently have over 30 missional communities scattered throughout the area from Federal Way, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Puyallup and Parkland.
While missional communities are the primary organizing structure of Soma, we regularly gather as a larger family to celebrate who God is and what He has done through Jesus. We worship, encourage, and equip each other to live as disciples of Jesus in the every day rhythms of life in our neighborhoods.
BUILDING: A TOOL FOR MISSION
The elders prayerfully sought the Father’s guidance and
• If Soma Tacoma had a facility that was not a provision to buy the building on Pacific Avenue that we church building, but was more of a community had been meeting in, but all the doors seemed closed.
center, where we could serve the homeless, We had largely given up on buying the building (or even where we could share office space with local continuing to rent space from a new owner) and were non-profit organizations, and share the facilities looking into other options.
with local high schools.
THEN, GOD DID SOMETHING QUITE UNEXPECTED!
• If we had a regional training center where we could continue to do missional community Through a divinely-arranged appointment, a member leader training and redemption groups. Where of our family met the CEO of
THE BUILDINGThe building, located at 2320 Pacific Avenue, in downtown Tacoma, was originally constructed in 1928 for Sears, Robuck and Company. It is situated in the historic Brewery District of downtown Tacoma on the main north/south arterial serving the downtown Tacoma Central Business district. The City of Tacoma has designated the Brewery District as a focus for growth and re-development. The University of Washington Tacoma has been a key factor in the Brewery District’s growth by continuing to expand its campus to within blocks of the building.
The building was rehabbed in 2002 by the J. Marcel Company, which used it for light textile manufacturing and assembly. Beginning in 2005, the J. Marcel Company transitioned the business out of the country and the lower floor of the building was leased out. The largest tenant, AT&T, has been in the lower floor since that time and has made substantial investments in tenant improvements.
Soma plans to invest some of the proceeds of our loan to improve and build-out the second floor. We will be making improvements to meet the requirements for “A-occupancy”, which will allow large groups to meet in the space, as well as building offices for the staff and to share with other non-profits, as well as kids space, kitchen and other meeting and training rooms.
SOMA’S USE OF THE BUILDINGIn 2006, two of Soma’s founding leaders, Jeff Vanderstelt (a current elder at Soma Tacoma) and Caesar Kalinowski purchased the building with the intent of leasing out the majority of the space to subsidize Soma’s use of a portion of the upper floor.
This arrangement worked very well for a number of years and was an enormous blessing to the Soma family, allowing us to rent space at well below market cost. However, a variety of circumstances, including required improvements to the building, and the need to repay some of the original investors who helped buy the building, lead the current owners to a decision to sell the building.
AN INTRODUCTION TO SEMBLESemble is a for-profit company based in Bellevue Washington that provides an on-line “peer-to-community” lending platform. Semble facilitates low-cost loans between socially-minded individuals and non-profit organizations. Semble is not a bank, but a technology and services company that serves as a lending platform.
Semble’s system allows Soma Tacoma to borrow money from our family—both the local Tacoma Family, as well as the extended family of Soma churches, and other interested individuals—at a cost well below what we would have to pay through traditional banks.
Lenders get an excellent rate of return (up to 4%), when compared to other fixed-income investments, and their loans are protected by the collateral of the building itself. More information on Semble’s program is available on their web site at www.semble.com.
The following diagram illustrates how Semble’s program works:
SOMA’S REPAYMENT STRATEGYOne of the reasons the elders of Soma Tacoma are so excited about the potential of this building is that the first floor of the two-story building is completely leased out to long-term tenants. One of the tenants has made over a million dollars in improvements to the space and is committed to staying in the building long term.
The leases for the tenants on the first floor will more than cover the entire interest payment on a $3 million dollar loan at 4%. This dramatically reduces the risk in the loan because Soma would not need to commit any of it’s own budget to make the interest payments.
However, we are committed to paying at least $5,000 per month toward the principal in addition to the interest payments. Even that $5,000 per month is less than half what we would have to pay to rent equivalent space, and is less than we have been paying over the past year in rent. We will get a better space for less money, with the vast majority of the interest and principal payment covered by other lease tenants in the building.
It is our desire to increase the principal payments over time as we grow, in order to get the loan paid off in the minimum period. We also would expect some increase in the lease income from the building over time, which will help reduce the repayment period. Even with no growth in principal payments from Soma and no increase in lease income, the loan would still be paid off in less than 30 years. If we are able to increase the principal payments to $10,000 per month, we can pay off the loan in just over 15 years.
The term of the initial loan will be 7 years. At the end of 7 years, Soma will need to re-finances the loan.
Semble has said that they will do another round of financing. Soma’s options for traditional financing should also be much better with equity in the current building and a payment track record to support our request.
First, the building is ideally located and provides flexible space we can use to bless and serve our city and region. We have many ideas, including serving the homeless, offering life-skills classes, classroom space for Tacoma’s school of the arts, sharing office with local non-profits, a community counseling center, an all-ages music venue, and more.
Second, the building’s central location and easy freeway access make it a great place for housing Soma School, Soma Residency, Redemption Groups, MC leader training, and other regional training events.
Third, the building will give us flexibility in our gathering times, safe and adequate kids space, and would allow us to house our own offices.
And finally, we would be able to do all this in the cheapest possible space in the city!
2. I thought we always said Soma isn’t about buildings…?
That is true, and nothing has changed in our values. We believe that God has called us to be the church, not just go to church. We are the church everywhere we go as we live as a family of servant-missionaries. However, we know that our family needs to gather regularly to be reminded of how great our God is, and to be equipped, trained and encouraged. As we’ve grown, we’ve needed more space to come together as a family.
We’ve investigated renting a variety of different spaces, but have found that buying the Pacific Avenue building gives us the most flexibility to meet when it works best for our family, as well as a place for Soma School, redemption group, and a variety of other training and equipping activities we do. Best of all, it will actually cost less than renting equivalent space!
3. Can Soma afford to buy this building?
Because of the lease income from the first floor tenants, Soma will actually pay less in monthly payments for a mortgage on this building than we would pay to rent just the part of the space we were using on the second floor. If we rented space equivalent to the entire second floor of the building, we would most likely have to pay twice as much as we will be paying to service a loan on the existing building.
The income from the first-floor tenants will more than cover the interest payments, and the elders have budgeted to pay at least $5,000 per month against the principal. We hope to pay more than that as our giving allows. If we can grow our principal payment to $10,000 per month, we will be able to pay the building off in about 15 years.
4. Didn’t the City tell us we couldn’t meet there? What has changed?
Yes, the city of Tacoma told us that we could not have meetings larger than 50 people in the building unless we made some improvements for what is called “A-occupancy”. These improvements provide better ingress and egress in the event of a fire, and also make the building comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, among other things.
10 We looked into making these improvements before, but didn’t have the funds to make them and were concerned about investing considerable money into improvements for a building we didn’t own. In addition, some of the requirements were actually more difficult to meet if we were only using the part of the second floor we’ve been meeting in.
Using the Semble program, we expect to be able to borrow enough money to buy the building, make the required A-occupancy improvements, and build-out additional empty space on the second floor.
The city of Tacoma is actually very supportive of us buying and using the building for our gatherings, offices, and training. We also hope to use the building in other ways to bless our city, such as possibly partnering with Tacoma’s School of the Arts.
5. Isn’t the building currently owned by one of our Elders?
Yes, Jeff Vanderstelt (one of our elders) and Caesar Kalinowski are the current owners of the building. They purchased the building in 2006 with the intent of leasing out the majority of the building and subsidizing Soma’s use of the building. For several years, Soma rented space at far below market rates. Soma was blessed by their generosity to our family for many years. However, Jeff and Caesar need to repay some of their original investors and Caesar is now in New York, so they decided that it was best to sell the building.
Caesar is no longer involved at Soma Tacoma, and Jeff has carefully recused himself from the entire process of making this decision so that there would be no “conflict of interest” with respect to our family’s purchase of the building.
6. What improvements will we be making?
Architects and contractors are currently working on improvement plans for the entire second floor. These improvements will include meeting space for our gatherings, children’s space, restrooms, street access, and staff office space. We expect to publish those plans soon. They will also include required improvements to fully qualify for an A-occupancy permit with the city of Tacoma.
7. How much will the building cost to purchase and improve?
Soma offered $2.38 million for the building. We estimate that A-occupancy improvements will cost $120,000 or less (we’re actually hoping/praying that it will be considerably less). Our budget for the build-out of the space (offices, more functional kids, space, etc..) is around $420,000.
We are asking God to provide $3 million through donations or loans through the Semble program so that we have sufficient funds to buy the building, make the A-occupancy improvements, cover closing and other costs with ownership, and complete the build-out of the second floor.
We have had an independent appraisal of the building, that valued it “as is” at $2.575 million and at $3.125 million with our planned improvements. There were also two prior offers on the building that failed to close at approximately $2.5 million, which provides additional evidence of the building’s value.
8. How does Semble help nonprofits and churches?
Essentially, Semble assists in setting up the structure where individuals can invest towards the loan need of Soma for 7 years at 4% interest rate (or less…people can choose to loan at any rate up to 4%). The loan Soma receives is secured by a normal “deed of trust” so that in the event that Soma were to default on the loan, the building would be sold as collateral to repay.
We would encourage you to visit Semble’s web site at http://www.semble.com to learn more. The elders have met with the senior management of Semble and talked to several of their clients. We are very comfortable that the business is sound and ethical. At least several of the senior management team are believers.