Christian Village of Abilene may become home to students next fall.
The university hopes to purchase the Christian Village retirement home facility near campus and convert it into sophomore level housing. The university has entered into an offer-option agreement with the board of trustees of Christian Village, giving the university the option to purchase the retirement home near campus facilities and potentially convert it into sophomore-level housing by next fall.
Christian Village, a non-profit independent living facility for seniors, has operated for nearly 30 years since its creation as a ministry of University Church of Christ. The church eventually spun off the retirement home on 19th Street west of Barret Hall as a separate entity, one that maintains significant ties to the university. Several board members are ACU employees or alumni.
In recent years, Christian Village has struggled with financial losses and low occupancy. The non-profit lost more than $75,000 in 2013, the most recent year in which financial data is available. For that reason, the retirement home has scheduled to close in February 2016.
Dr. Allison Garrett, executive vice president of the university, said CVA was likely to shut down next summer, but this agreement could be better for residents.
“While it’s sad for the people who have lived there for such a long time, I think it is a good resolution for them,” Garrett said.
Many of these residents own their units and have been unable to sell them for as many as five or six years, she said.
“It’s just that what people are looking for today is not that style of living,” Garrett said. “As people retire today, their objective is to remain in their own home until they finally have to go to a nursing home. So, it became harder and harder for them to fill vacant units.”
If ACU goes through with its purchase of the facility, unit owners will receive payment for the sale of their units.
“For those who own units, it actually means they’ll get paid, as opposed to the alternative – immediate closure with no payment,” Garrett said.
Christian Village will handle the distribution of funds to unit-holders if the facility is purchased by ACU.
The university already owns the two acres on which Christian Village sits. And while Garrett would not disclose the purchase price negotiated with the Christian Village board, the building is valued by Taylor County’s tax assessor’s office at more than $2.4 million.
Now in the offer-option agreement period, the university has until the end of September to decide whether it will move forward with purchasing the facility, but Garrett said it was likely.
“It would be surprising if we were to make a decision not to exercise the option,” Garrett said.
Should the university decide to purchase Christian Village, the move will affect students in more than one way.
The building has been kept in good condition, and not much would need to be done to get it ready for student residents, Garrett said. The 59 units would be converted to one or two bedroom apartments, with capacity for 180 beds. This facility would provide much needed space for the increasing number of students. The apartment-style units each contain a kitchen area, a bathroom, a walk-in closet and a washer and dryer. The facility includes many common-area spaces, such as a dining room, an auditorium that seats 50, a little beauty shop, a third-floor deck and a small library.
“It’s really a great location for us, and it comes at a good time,” Garrett said. “This fall, it was pretty crowded. We have what some people would call a high-class problem.”
If ACU exercises the option to buy Christian Village’s facilities, CVA could be operating as an ACU dorm by next fall.
David Swearingen, member of Christian Village’s board of trustees, said the potential conversion to student housing would be a good use of the building.
“ACU is interested in our building as the university grows,” Swearingen said. “We can’t think of a better way for our building to be used in the future – as a place for students to live and mature as they prepare for a life of Christian service as young adults.”
At the end of the month, ACU will decide if they will move forward with the project. If so, conversations about a closing date for the final sale will continue.
“We feel really blessed to have an opportunity to acquire a facility that’s been so well loved and well cared for,” Garrett said.