Tonkon Torp Helps Albina Head Start Purchase Property for Community Cornerstone

Attorneys from Tonkon Torp’s Real Estate & Land Use Practice Group are celebrating a successful real estate purchase for pro bono client Albina Head Start (AHS).

For more than 40 years, AHS has leased space at a former church building in NE Portland for its Tina Clegg Center. The Center, a community pillar for one of Portland’s historic communities of color, houses both a Head Start program serving 60 low-income families and AHS administrative offices that coordinate and provide services for numerous additional families.

Early in 2019, AHS was notified that the building had been put on the market and that AHS would have to vacate the premises by June 30. Faced with the daunting task of finding a new, affordable space in Portland’s expensive real estate market that was also head start compliant, the nonprofit organization turned to Tonkon Torp to launch a bid to purchase the building. The firm has provided a wide range of counsel and legal services to AHS through a decades-long relationship, led by business attorney Owen Blank.

While waiting for answers to queries about purchasing the building, brokers began bringing groups to look at the property. The sense of urgency to secure the center was palpable. By May, 2019, with the help of Tonkon Torp, AHS was able to sign a Letter of Intent that included a no-shop clause, a vital step putting an end to active marketing of the property to others. The LOI outlined the offer price and provided for seller financing that would allow AHS to focus on short-term fundraising to secure the down payment.

AHS received additional help from Tonkon Torp in securing off-cycle grants from community foundations in a short time frame. Although fundraising is not a typical role for Owen, he initiated successful conversations within his network which, along with Albina’s efforts, helped pave the way for Albina to raise more than the minimum required down payment from several Oregon-based foundations.

Finalizing a below-appraisal purchase price and the terms for seller financing in the Purchase and Sale Agreement assured that AHS would be able to raise the balance of the purchase price in a realistic time frame. After addressing building conditions and issues related to other occupants of the property, the sale recently closed.

All parties involved acknowledge that helping AHS purchase the building was about more than a real estate transaction. As sole owner, AHS now has the ability to ensure that current and future families who live within the community can be reliably served at the Tina Clegg Center. Since transportation can be a significant barrier for low-income families, being referred to distant centers would likely result in loss of access to the vital services provided through Head Start.

In addition to Owen, Rachel Atchison and Kimberlee Stafford worked on real estate issues, and Max Miller spearheaded environmental due diligence on the property.