The Franklin Community Center on the city’s West Side, which has been bursting at the seams with demand for its social services since March, will purchase the nearby Masie Center building and move into it after receiving a $1 million private donation.
A deal for the non-profit agency to buy the 10,000-square-foot online learning center at 95 Washington St. is expected to close Thursday, with owners Elliott and Cathy Masie selling the building for $2.1 million, a discount from their $2.6 million asking price.
The Franklin Community Center’s purchase follows a $1 million donation from Michael and Stacie Arpey of Saratoga Springs, and the building will be known as the Michael and Stacie Arpey Community Center. Michael Arpey is president of Hunter Point Capital, an independent investment firm.
The Franklin Community Center, which was founded in 1983 at 10 Franklin St., provides social support services including a food pantry, a free after-school prevention program, affordable housing for low-income individuals, and assistance with furniture, clothing, household needs, school supplies, and holiday needs. Its services have been in high demand.
“Demand for services was already on the rise before the pandemic, but now we’re seeing people we’ve never seen before,” said Kari Cushing, the community center’s executive director. “We have seen 2,300 families in total since March, and 580 of them have been first-time visitors. We’re very grassroots, we pride ourselves in helping people, everyone who comes to us.”
The organization was already working on on-site expansion plans when the pandemic struck, putting planning on hold. When the Masie Center, located across an intersection, went up for sale in September, the proximity of the building, as well as past financial support for their mission from the Masies, encouraged community center officials to approach them.
The $1 million donation from the Arpeys will allow the purchase to happen immediately. Both Arpeys grew up in humble circumstances in Saratoga Springs, though Michael went on to become a lawyer and achieve success in the investment industry, and Stacie became a school psychologist.
“They are both self-made,” Cushing said. “They received help when they were growing up, and want to be sure that kind of help is available to others in the future.”
“Mike and I are thrilled to continue to support the mission of the FCC,” said Stacie Arpey, who is on the center’s board of directors. “The new home for FCC will help ensure that families in Saratoga Springs have an inviting place to receive the resources of FCC for years to come.”
The Masie Center, which was built in 2001, quickly became one of the most notable buildings on the West Side, just a couple of blocks from downtown. The center founded by Elliott Masie has offered business-focused online seminars and is an e-learning think tank, and is extensively wired for online access.
“When we approached Cathy and Elliott about purchasing their building, I think they were more excited about the new possibilities for their building than I was,” Cushing said.
The technology will make it easier to communicate with clients, especially given the physical meeting restrictions that the pandemic has imposed on its work, Cushing said. The organization relies on a network of volunteers, Cushing noted, and their roles have been limited by the pandemic’s physical distancing restrictions.
“We are thrilled that our building will have a new chapter, serving the needs of the Saratoga community,” said Cathy Masie. “Franklin can use the technologies and facilities as their new home to creatively provide support, services and programs.”
The community center is still raising money, with a goal of raising $3 million toward the purchase, remodeling and additional operating expenses of the new building. With the Arpey donation, it has now raised more than $2 million toward that goal.
The transition into the new building is expected to happen gradually. In addition to its 10 Franklin St, administrative offices, which are leased from the city, Franklin Community Center owns low-income housing and a “free” store on Washington Street.
“In 2021 we will look at what we have learned during the pandemic and look at how we need to shift around and best provide our services and resources,” Cushing said.