Upper Arlington News

First Community Village pulled from bankruptcy


Upper Arlington-based National Church Residences last week completed the sale of $52.405 million in bonds and invested another $10 million in First Community Village to pay off the retirement community's bankruptcy debts.

On Feb. 21, National Church Residences, a national nonprofit senior services organization headquartered in Upper Arlington, announced it had forged a "new era of financial stability" for First Community Village.

By selling $52.405 million in bonds and spending $10 million of its own finances, National Church Residences officials said they had satisfied First Community Village's debts from construction of luxury apartments.

"We've made a big investment in the Tri-Village area," Joe Kasberg, chief financial officer for National Church Residences, said via telephone. "It's our intention for First Community Village to stay there forever."

National Church Residences took control of First Community Village, a continuing-care retirement community also in Upper Arlington, as part of First Community Village's 2010 reorganization after it fell into financial hardship.

In January 2012, a bankruptcy court made National Church Residences the sole sponsor of First Community Village.

As such, National Church Residences was granted authority to elect First Community Village's board of directors and manage operations of the retirement community.

According to National Church Residences, the Franklin County Hospital Commission approved issuing the healthcare facilities revenue refunding bonds for First Community Village last month, which allowed the debt to be paid off two years ahead of schedule.

The original reorganization plan called for a lump $54 million payment in 2015 to banks to satisfy debts from construction of luxury apartments at First Community Village.

"We decided to sell the bonds now rather than two years from now because of the current operating performance and today's low-interest-rate environment," Kasberg stated in a Feb. 21 press release.

In a telephone interview Feb. 21, Kasberg added, "We've been successful in operating (First Community Village) more profitably than it was. We're in better financial footing ... so we could go out and borrow this $52 million."

Kasberg said National Church Residences will use $2 million from the bond sale to complete the renovations of the skilled nursing at First Community Village. Construction also will start on an additional 12 manor homes.

Karen Twinem, vice president of communications and public relations for National Church Residences, said First Community Village has 370 residents.

She noted since the organization took control of First Community Village, the first phase of the skilled nursing renovation was completed with a philanthropic gift of $1.4 million, allowing the development of a new central therapy room.

The renovation included the development of neighborhood dining spaces, the addition of a private dining room and library/lounge for residents, the installation of an electronic medical records system and remodeling of some of the village's one- and two-bedroom units, she said.

"We see First Community Village as a hub of care in the Tri-Village area," Twinem said.

The bond sale and investment followed National Church Residence's approximately $2 million purchase of the former Willis Insurance building at 2245 North Bank Drive in Upper Arlington.

The acquisition of the 40,000-square-foot building, according to organization officials, will lead to the relocation of office staff from its headquarters in neighboring buildings at 2235 and 2233 North Bank Drive by Friday, March 1.

The purchase will allow Upper Arlington's largest private employer, which currently has more than 700 people on staff, to add about 188 local jobs over the next 10 years and provide for the establishment of a senior services center at its headquarters.

"We're a national organization, but Upper Arlington is our home town," Twinem said. "We are committed to Upper Arlington."

According to the organization, National Church Residences provides integrated housing, healthcare and supportive services for seniors and their families through 330 communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico.