West Lawn Update
Now that we have passed the 18-month window, I thought it was time that you were updated on where we are in the process and what we can expect moving forward.
Over the past year and a half, Azure has developed plans for the West Lawn parcel and have been working closely with the City of Delray Beach to obtain the permits and approvals necessary to move forward. These plans have been reviewed and revised many times, and the Board of Trustees has been kept apprised of the status of development and have had had the opportunity to reflect and comment on the plans on a few occasions.
One of the changes that occurred due to consultation with the city was the creation of a 1 acre shared retention area, which reduced the area that we are selling to Azure from 3 to 2.5 acres (the other .5 acres would come from our land). This reduced the purchase price from 2.74 to 2.625 million. Other than that, the original proposed deal remained in place.
The anticipated closing date for the West Lawn parcel was August 22nd. Shortly before that date, we were notified that Azure was exercising their first extension period, as per their contract, and now have until December 27th to close on the deal. As part of this extension, Azure deposited a further $50,000 in escrow that becomes Cason’s if Azure were to default on the agreement. This extension was required in order to allow the City to review final plans and obtain our input and approval. In the next week, Trustees will review the final Plat Application for the City of Delray and, if appropriate, sign off on the application. This is the last step in getting the City’s approval, so we are hopeful that closing will happen within the 120-day window of extension one. Per their contract, Azure does have two more extension periods, meaning that the process could extend until August of 2023; however that seems unlikely.
In anticipation of closing and the receipt of funds, a committee was appointed to vet potential money managers, and based on their recommendation, the Trustees voted to appoint Primerica Financial Services as the West Lawn Funds management team. I am recommending that leadership appoint an “investment team” made up of members of Trustees, Finance and the congregation at large who will meet with the Primerica team manager, Brian Cartland, to discuss the deposit of the funds and potential strategies of investment. This team will help create an investment plan that will be presented to Trustees for consideration and approval.
I am assembling a short term committee specifically to look at immediate needs of the church. This may include exterior landscaping, painting, review of our monument sign; possible renovations of Fellowship Hall, including new flooring and acoustic tiles; improvements/modifications to the sanctuary, including repairing the organ, painting, audio/visual tech, etc. In short, this committee will make
recommendations about things that we can do to refresh and revive our physical plant. It’s about time that we showed the community that we are proud of our facility by taking care of our largest asset. If you are interested in being part of this committee, please let me know.
As we look forward to receipt of the funds, I want to be very clear about something: no money from the sale of the West Lawn can be used to supplement the general budget. According to the Book of Discipline ¶ 2543, “The principal proceeds of a sale of any property shall not be used for the current budget or operating expense of a local church…. the principal may be used for capital improvements beyond the regular operating budget”. We are forbidden from using the proceeds from the West Lawn for anything except capital improvements; however, we may use the interest from the investment of the funds to supplement the general budget. Regardless, per the original proposal to sell the land that the members of the church approved, the funds from the sale cannot and will not be used, in any way, without a corresponding vote of the membership. It is my promise, and that of the appointed leadership of the church, that any use of these funds will be done transparently and with full advice and consent from the congregation.
This brings me to my final point. Yes, Cason is poised to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.3 million dollars. It may be tempting for some to say that the church doesn’t need to worry about giving anymore because we have so much money. However, as I just pointed out, use of these funds is highly restricted. At this time, more than ever before, we need to continue to encourage those in the church to give in response to God’s grace, not on what they believe they’re commanded to give, or based on what money may be in our bank accounts. The need for the missions and ministries of Christ continue as does our commitment to serve those in need. I encourage you all to continue to be faithful in your giving to the church and to remember that the gift we received from the sale of the West Lawn allows the “church” as a noun to function, but only your generosity and faithful giving allows the “church” as a verb to do its Kingdom building work.
In the name of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray that wise choices in investing Cason’s sale of the land be done in a secure investment manner where the moneys will grow and benefit the church to share the love of Jesus.
We ask this in Jesus name Amen