Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The loss of a nonprofit hub in Boston: the Congregational Library and Archives

United Methodist Building, DC. Photo from the Interpreter.

Not unlike how the United Methodist Building is a hotbed of social activism located across the street from the US Capitol ("A Beacon on Capitol Hill: The United Methodist Building," Interpreter), Congregational House in Boston serves a similar role in Boston, across the street from the State Capitol of Massachusetts.

Primarily the home of the Congregational Church Library and Archives, over the years the church has rented space for offices to social justice groups. More than 30 nonprofits rent space there, and the cost is significantly less than market rate.

But the church sold the building because of its high property value, and the other groups located there are being pushed out by the for profit owners, who aren't particularly as community minded as they suggested they would be ("As Beacon Street landmark changes hands, nonprofits fear losing access to power," Boston Globe).

Although I don't think that should be a surprise.  They bought the building as for profit real estate developers, not as a provider of low cost space to nonprofits.

Ideally, through a community foundation, the building could have remained in nonprofit hands with a social justice purpose, but most communities don't have processes in place that aim to do that.

The Nonprofit Centers Network is a national technical assistance organization that works with nonprofit shared use facilities like the Congregational House, although that particular organization is not a member.

The Village at 17th Street, shared nonprofit building, Orange County, CaliforniaThis story is about Orange County Shared Spaces located in The Village at 17th Street office complex. This is OC's first "shared spaces" building for nonprofits. By clustering in one building, nonprofit groups can collaborate and share amenities. Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register, "This Village is Orange County's first building dedicated to housing nonprofits."

As discussed in the 2016 piece, "BTMFBA revisited: nonprofits and facilities planning and acquisition," in strong market cities, as commercial property rents and cost to own rises, nonprofits are increasingly priced out of the market too, just as lower income residents get displaced in the residential housing market.

Planning offices ought to do overarching plans for the nonprofit sector, including facilities planning, just as I suggest this be done for cultural planning and for cities generally ("Town-city management: we are all asset managers now").

I was doing filing yesterday, and came across an older article about this as it relates to colleges and universities.

-- "Protecting and Enhancing Campus Facilities: 6 Principles for Boards," College Trusteeship, v20:2 p22-27 Mar-Apr 2012.

The principles:
  • Principle #1: Make Facilities Stewardship a Core Governing Board Value
  • Principle #2: Link Long-Range Capital Planning Directly with Institutional Strategic Priorities
  • Principle #3: Ensure Institution-Wide Leadership Responsibility in Facilities Stewardship
  • Principle #4: Create Credibility for Capital-Investment Decisions
  • Principle #5: Ensure Accountability in Implementation
  • Principle #6: Sustain Continuity of the Long-Term Plan through Leadership Changes.

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At 10:34 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...


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