Acquisition: Lease or Purchase
For NPL, the acquisition process is an on-going activity. Once NPL’s Board of Directors identifies a school that it wants to support, NPL scours all available sources to help identify potential locations, in many cases identifying both locations that are then for sale and locations that are for lease.
NPL then investigates the potential of those locations for use as a school, including considering whether those proposed locations are already served by good schools, whether the cost of preparing the facility for use as a can be serviced using the school’s anticipated finances, and the potential of the school to handle any expected expansion of the school’s enrollment down the road. If the school selects a location that is for lease, NPL makes an effort to facilitate the lease transaction between the landlord and the school and steps aside. For schools that prefer, and reasonably can, purchase facilities, NPL utilizes its experience with developing charter schools to acquire and renovate the property at the lowest possible cost. It is critical that buildings are purchased competitively in order to assure the lowest cost basis and therefore the lowest debt service for the property.
Prior to the commencement of construction, we work with experienced professionals to prepare architectural and engineering drawings, surveys, appraisals and environmental reports. In addition, we perform an exhaustive entitlement review including all applicable zoning and building codes.
NPL negotiates contracts and fees aggressively, and actively manages the quality and timeliness of the work on each component of a project.
We coordinate every aspect of the design and construction process and do each of the following:
• Define the scope of work for all designers, contractors and other team members
• Select and oversee all consultants, contractors, architects, and others
• Monitor the budget and the schedule
• Manage all financial aspects of a project
• Apply to, and comply with requirements of public funding and financing programs
• Coordinate with board of directors
• Close out the project.
After carefully integrating school program and building /zoning code needs into the property, we confirm project budgets and schedules via competitive bidding. Construction commences upon loan closing, with completion typically coming between 60 to 180 days (depending on the scope of the renovations or other work involved with the project), well in advance of school commissioning and opening.
Once a site is selected for a school, the next, and critical step, is in-depth facility planning. Even a great location for a school is useless unless the location can be prepared on a timely basis to serve the needs of the school’s students and help the students achieve their potential. So, once the site is selected, NPL assists the school and its management organization with the process of determining how to renovate the location to suit the needs of the school’s educational programs, initially and in the future, without incurring costs so great that the school cannot service the debt.
Thoughtful planning can avoid costly and organizationally-risky real estate decisions. Because NPL understands the importance of the planning stage, most of the time we spend on a project is in the planning stage for the project. During the planning stage, we work very closely with school administration and board, as well as our architects and designers in order to come up with the most effective space for the school’s needs.