“Together with fine leadership, the team brought a variety of experience, perspectives and expertise. The recommendations were on target and realistic. Overall, the experience was empowering. The Consulting Corps demonstrated how to look at critical issues more creatively and confidently, and their outreach to key partners in the larger community expanded our understanding of available resources.”
Sister Alice Feeley, RDC, 2006 President
Client: Sisters of the Divine Compassion (RDC) is a Catholic religious congregation founded in New York in 1886, originally dedicated to the service and education of disadvantaged women in the Lower East Side. The order branched out into various ministries consistent with its mission, and its primary operations were based out of a main campus in White Plains (including Good Counsel Grammar School and High School) and at Preston High School in the Bronx.
Challenge: By 2006, RDC Leadership recognized they were facing a looming financial crisis when the majority of the Sisters would be retired in about ten years and requested Consulting Corps assistance in evaluating how their real estate holdings might be used to alleviate this crisis. The goal was to generate sufficient income to cover expenses of the ministries, provide dignified care for aging community members, and preserve the sacred and historic buildings. At the time, the Congregation retained about half of the original 30 acres that comprised the White Plains campus (shared with Pace Law School), Preston High School in the Bronx, and several other properties serving unique ministries or providing residences for members of the order.
Assessment: In 2006, five Counselors assembled in White Plains to tour the two main properties, analyze demographics and market data, and interview key stakeholders. The Consulting Corps team realized the need to apply basic real estate concepts to management of the real estate for the benefit of the Congregation.
Recommendations: The Consulting Corps team recommended that the Congregation enter into leases with the various ministries to assist in determining which could be self-supporting and to define space usage on the main campus. The team also recommended exploration of longer-term financial solutions, with the two best options identified as 1) entering into a sale-leaseback arrangement for one or more properties and 2) investigating development opportunities at the periphery of the White Plains campus. In addition, the team offered recommendations on organizational operations, structure, and management to facilitate the business side of Congregation decision-making.
Outcomes: After implementing many of the team’s recommendations, the Congregation realized a more radical approach was required. Ultimately, assisted by additional legal and real estate experts, RDC was able to sell the White Plains campus to a developer while retaining use of the historic chapel and office space for Congregation use. The proceeds of the sale provided adequate funding to continue Congregation operations and provide financial security for the community members.
Team: The team was led by John Leary, CRE. Panelists were the late Bill Christensen, CRE, Martha Gutierrez (NYU intern), Bill Wiebe, CRE, Bill McCarthy, CRE, and Theddi Wright Chappell, CRE
Does your community, university, or local nonprofit need help with a real estate challenge?
For more information or to refer a project to the CRE Consulting Corps, please contact
Samantha DeKoven (312-329-8431; firstname.lastname@example.org).