Renting to Claremont School of Theology (CST)

First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
Rick Hoyt-McDaniels
Renting to Claremont School of Theology (CST)
August 27, 2017

I.  Background

Ralph Cole suggested to the Stay in Place committee that we explore the possibility of renting space in our building to Claremont School of Theology (CST). CST is in negotiations to sell their current building and move the campus to Oregon. They may need temporary space in the LA area while they complete their move.

On, August 15, I received an email from Sean Gabe letting me know that Ralph Cole had made an initial contact at CST and had set up a phone call with the CST President for August 18. Sean suggested that I be the primary contact with the school as I am the minister of this church and a CST graduate. I agreed.

I called the school on August 16 and spoke with the President’s secretary. She directed me to, Gamward Quan, the Vice President of Business Affairs, CFO and Technical Management. Gamward and I spoke by phone on August 17.

I shared my findings with Ralph Cole on August 20.

II.  Conclusion

  • First Church is not a suitable site. CST needs more space, and more specialized space than we have available.
    • 10,000 to 15,000 total square feet
    • Classroom space for 150-200 students
    • Office space for faculty and administrators (20 or so offices, total)
    • Classrooms must be support networking and video technology to allow off-site students
    • All offices, classrooms, bathrooms, etc. must be ADA accessible.
    • Options for affordable student housing at or near the campus
  • Finding space for the CST Library will be their biggest challenge. Libraries must be specially constructed to withstand the weight of the books.
  • It might be possible to partner with other churches in our area to co-host the school, though it’s hard to see how this would be CST’s best option. Indeed, according to Gamward Quan, their best and most likely option is to lease back their current campus until they complete their move.
  • In any event, CST would only need to rent space for a year or two, meaning this would not be a sustainable source of income for First Church so it doesn’t serve to solve our financial challenge.
  • Sharing space to this extent would greatly interfere with our ability to fulfill our mission as a church.

III. Findings

  • CST has an enrollment of 450 students. They have about 20 faculty positions and about 25 administrative positions. Besides classrooms and offices they have a library, a chapel, a lunch room, other meeting rooms and student housing in several buildings on a campus in Claremont.
  • Due to financial issues, they are seeking to sell their current campus and use the proceeds to create an endowment that would fund their school in a new location.
  • CST is currently in negotiations with a school in Salem, Oregon called Willamette University. The intention is to move the theology school to the Willamette campus, gradually, beginning fall 2018. Each school year for the next 3 or 4 years current students would have the option of remaining in southern California, while new students would begin classes in Oregon.
  • CST intends to use their current campus for the current school year that just began. During the 2017-2018 school year CST will pursue selling their campus. This idea is complicated by an existing covenant that CST holds with the neighboring Claremont colleges and has necessitated a lawsuit, which is ongoing.
  • CST’s best option is to conclude the sale of their campus by summer 2018. They then hope to lease-back space on the current campus to serve approximately 200 students.
  • Gamward is optimistic that CST will be able to stay in its current space until they are able to move entirely to Oregon.