is Belmont Village? What do they do?
Belmont Village Senior Living is a fully integrated developer, owner and operator of Assisted Living communities. Belmont Village was founded in 1997 following a three year research effort to create a unique, senior-focused community that reached beyond the existing paradigm in the Assisted Living industry. Sites are carefully chosen in stable, secure neighborhoods with strong consumer appeal, and convenient access to the amenities of the surrounding community. Each Belmont Village community has been designed from the ground up to offer a superior living experience that is value-priced and tailored to senior living.
Why are we doing this?
We need to upgrade our facilities and plan for routine repair and replacement.
Since our current facilities are aging and inadequate for the current and future mission of our church, on November 15, 2015 the congregation voted to authorize Session to enter into a 99-year ground lease with Belmont. The sanctuary will remain, and a new building on the site of the Ashton house and the back parking lot will house the Preschool, Christian Education space, and administrative offices. The center of the property will have a shared space in which Belmont will create their own for-profit senior living facility, and we will have a new fellowship hall, kitchen, nursery, education room, and choir space. Adequate parking for both Belmont and WPC will be underground.
We want to expand our mission and ministry, while planning for capital needs of WPC.
In December 2014 a task force on “Money, Mission and Faithful Stewardship” was formed by the Session. The task force was charged to do the following: To reflect biblically, theologically and strategically about the faithful stewardship of the monies that will come our way as a result of developing WPC’s property. It is hoped that the legacy of this income will be to extend WPC’s mission and ministry, while preserving and enhancing the commitment of the congregation in their annual stewardship and commitment to the church.
On May 19, 2015 the Session approved the recommendations of the task force. The task force introduced their recommendations with the following Guiding Values.
The church campus we enjoy today has come to us as a gift of faithful generations who, with wisdom and generosity secured our Wilshire property and built a church facility that has served us for over 60 years. All of it belongs to God – our call is to steward God’s assets well, in order that current and future generations of WPC members and friends can continue to be Christ’s visible, compassionate presence in West Los Angeles and around the world.
The revenue from a development project must be used to further the Mission of WPC, as articulated in its Mission Statement and Essential Practices, and as overseen by its Session.
This “bonus revenue” must not discourage faithful stewardship… as people of faith, we have the need to give in support of what God is up to in the world. WPC’s Mission has both internal and external components. We desire to strengthen all we do that deepens our ability to walk humbly with God, as well as all that we do to bring justice and kindness to our world’s needs.
The recommendations stated that net revenue from the proceeds of the WPC Development Project should initially be allocated to three distinct budgets: Program, Capital and Mission and allocated at 25%-Program, 50%-Capital, and 25%-Mission. Capital is initially set on the high end as there will be significant costs related to furnishing our new facility, as well as significant deferred maintenance/improvements needed for our sanctuary.
Another significant recommendation was that Mission & Outreach committee of the Session establish the vision, values and processes by which we choose and support mission partners and create strategic mission partnerships that connect WPC’s “heart” with the needs of the world. Some percentage of the mission portion of “bonus” revenues will be set aside so that church members can apply for grants to mission causes of personal importance. The Mission & Outreach committee will establish and oversee that grant-making process.
When did this start?
In 2012, recognizing that our current facilities are aging and inadequate for the current and future mission of our church, the Session authorized the Property Development Committee to begin looking for ways in which we might enter into a relationship with a partner that would help us develop our Wilshire property. It was hoped that the development of our property would provide us with much needed new facilities as well as create a revenue stream that would enhance our church’s mission. The intention has been to retain our sanctuary, and use the land on which our current education wing and Hoffman Hall sit, the parking lot, and the Ashton House to create a shared space in which a developer would create their own for-profit facility, and WPC would have expanded space for our ministry needs, and adequate parking for both endeavors.
We began by studying the current and future space needs of our congregation and determined that we would need approximately 26,000 square feet of new space to meet our church’s needs (we currently have approximately 14,000 square feet). Concurrently, we began conversations with potential development partners that we felt could be a good match for our church. We looked at entities that were proven and well-known for their integrity and quality of the finished product. We have examined several types of development options and financial structures, keeping in mind WPC’s values, its mission and its financial needs. We met several times with each potential partner and ultimately received 3 detailed proposals from which to choose including proposals for outright purchase of the property and for a long-term lease. Ultimately, the committee decided it was preferable to go with a long-term lease.
Why was Belmont selected as our partner?
- Willing to partner with us through a ground lease, as opposed to a sale of a portion of our property.
- A general sense that the mission of Belmont was more in keeping with the mission of WPC than high-end condominiums, which was the other option.
- History of local development and success completing projects in the area & throughout the U.S.
- Belmont’s financial background and the strength of its financing partner.
- Demonstrated concern for the needs and priorities of WPC.
- The Belmont executive team’s ability to communicate and work cooperatively.
How are we paying for this project?
Early in the church approval process, the church was informed that the cost of the entire project would be borne by the developer. What does this mean? Will we have a mortgage?
- Belmont and its financial partner, Welltower, are financing WPC’s building costs for 30 years at 4.5% interest. So, we did not need to go to an external lender to obtain a traditional mortgage to facilitate our part of the project. We are repaying this “loan” from Belmont by a reduction of the ground rent over those 30 years. The Church has the option to repay Belmont in whole or in part in advance at any time.
- Ground rent is an annual amount Belmont will pay WPC for 99 years in exchange for leasing land on our premises for their part of the project. Belmont’s rent will increase every five years based on agreed to formulas. So, the amount of net income after paying the cost of the WPC improvements will increase on a regular basis during the 30 years we are paying that off to Belmont and through the remainder of the 99-year lease.
- In order to reduce the total amount of the cost to be financed through our partner, a gift of $4 million dollars, coupled with fundraising to raise $1 million to cover the estimated cost of $5 million total for the Preschool facilities, has reduced the overall financing cost of the project.
- WPC may need to solicit funding for furnishings and other items in the future. In addition, the significant revenue stream produced by this project will allow us to deepen our church’s mission work.
What is the church’s decision-making structure?
The Book of Order which guides Presbyterian churches establishes Presbyterian polity by requiring each particular congregation be led by a Board of ruling Elders called the Session. The WPC Session comprised of 18 elected and ordained Elders, plus the Pastors, has responsibility for governing and guiding the congregation so that it is and becomes a community of faith, hope, love, and witness. This role includes managing the physical property of the congregation for the furtherance of its mission, as well as the church’s budget, mission and program.
In order to be responsive to the various issues and obligations that will arise during the development project, the Session created an administrative commission to act on its behalf through the development process. (Book of Order/G-3.0201)
Session Administrative Commission – The Session administrative commission will act on behalf of Session through the development process. The commission will implement Session decisions and keep Session informed of its actions. The Administrative Commission may create committees to assist in aspects of the development process. (Session minutes, February 16, 2016)
Presbyterian churches do not operate like congregational churches where members vote on all issues facing the church. Our representative form of government has elected representatives filling this role and the congregation chooses those representatives when it elects members of the Session. Only issues relating to buying, selling, and mortgaging church property and the call of Pastors is subject to approval by the congregation. On November 15, 2015, the WPC congregation approved leasing church property (not including the sanctuary) for 99 years to Belmont. The Presbytery of the Pacific is working with WPC, and its approval is needed on the final form of the lease document. As needed, ad hoc committees of the Session Administrative Commission will meet regarding design, construction, and communications & logistics.