SCHENECTADY — Supporters of an effort to resurrect a shuttered community center are hoping for a miracle this fall.
A six-month extension of the purchase agreement between the non-profit Miracle on Craig Street and the city to purchase the Carver Community Center cleared a procedural hurdle after being approved by the City Council’s Development and Planning Committee on Monday.
Pushing the agreement back to Sept. 30 will allow the consultants representing the non-profit group to obtain the line of credit necessary to close the final fundraising gap.
Miracle on Craig Street has been working since 2015 to reopen the former community center, which closed in 2013 because of financial problems.
Travon T. Jackson, president and managing director of BlueLight Development Group, briefed City Council members on the finances for the proposed three-phase project on Monday.
BlueLight estimates it will cost $318,867 to bring the center up to code.
Specific improvements include replacing the boiler, installing commercial ventilation and air changers, repairing plumbing and radiation, updating electrical sub-panels and conduit line work where necessary.
The work will cost $278,500, with the remainder reserved for contingency, including potential asbestos remediation.
The initial agreement allowing the group to purchase the building at 700 Craig St. and five adjacent parcels from the city for $1,000 expired last month. The sale price has since been revised to $1, but the group must demonstrate it has the resources to bring the building up to code.
Pushing back the deadline will allow Miracle to obtain a $70,000 line of credit funding to serve as a funding bridge.
“Once we have the line secure, we can start construction today,” said Jackson, who estimated the process will take four months.
The city obtained $150,000 in federal Community Development Block Grants last summer; Metroplex Development Authority is committing $150,000 pending board approval, and The William Gundry Foundation will contribute $25,000.
Miracle had raised approximately $37,000 through crowdfunding efforts.
Project documents state Miracle will utilize revolving lines of credit to borrow $311,717 in the first year for capital costs.
The $300,000 in matching grants will require the nonprofit to generate that same amount in revenue.
“For every dollar we spend, they’ll reimburse us,” Jackson said after the meeting.
Miracle intends to transform the center into a neighborhood hub, providing community programming alongside study areas, athletic space, kitchen access and other charitable services.
Project documents list $122,285 in estimated annual revenues between 2020 and 2023, including proceeds from hosting special events, membership dues and rental income.
About a third of those revenues are projected to come from rental space, including a juice bar and daycare, arts, event and office space.
Miracle is also awaiting the outcome of $100,000 in grant requests from the state Legislature, but members are not holding their breath due to the unpredictability of the budget process.
“It’s politics, it’s kind of a crapshoot, which is why we don’t depend on the money as heavily,” Jackson said.
LAWMAKERS SOUND OFF
A full rehabilitation of the structure would cost $1.5 million and take three years.
A proposed second phase would include grounds and cosmetic improvements — as well as accessibility work like the installation of an elevator — and the third, additional exterior work.
“At this point, we’re really focused on Phase 1 and getting that building open,” Jackson said.
City officials said last April they didn’t want to hand over ownership of the property until the group secured more funding, as well as offered a clearer road map for where the money was going to come from.
Councilman John Polimeni said on Monday he was concerned that revenue-producing operations would jeopardize Miracle’s tax-exempt status.
“To me, it seems like you would have to pay taxes on that portion,” Polimeni said.
Jackson said enterprises designed to directly support nonprofits are not uncommon, such as gift shops located within theaters.
“It’s not feasible for an organization with that large of a footprint not to monetize the spaces that exist to be monetized,” Jackson said.
Development and Planning Committee Chair Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas said she wants Miracle to succeed in its mission.
But she wondered about creeping costs associated with bringing the building up to code, as well as the nonprofit’s ability to generate $300,000.
“They need to generate enough private funding to get the building where it needs to be,” Zalewski-Wildzunas said after the meeting.
The measure comes before the full City Council next week. If approved, Miracle will have until Sept. 30 to close on the property.