Banking on Success in Baton Rouge

CSDC Banks on Success of Mentorship Academies in Baton Rouge

(Baton Rouge, LA, March 23, 2011) Charter Schools Development Corporation (CSDC) is working with two Baton Rouge charter high schools to convert a six-story bank into a state-of-the-art educational facility that will put their students on the path to success in college and beyond.

The former Regions Bank building in downtown Baton Rouge is now home to two charter schools that are part of the Helix Network of Education Choices (Helix):  Mentorship Academy of Digital Arts (MADA), which prepares students for careers in the information and communication technologies, and Mentorship Academy of Science and Technology (MAST), which focuses on the science, engineering and technology fields. The schools, which opened in July 2010, started with grade 9 and will grow by one grade each year until they are full high schools for grades 9-12.  Both schools offer a core curriculum that provides the foundation for students’ career instruction.

Helix identified the Regions Bank building, with its 6 floors and 50,000 plus square feet of space, as an ideal facility in which to collocate the schools, and was able to negotiate a short term lease and secure a company to renovate three floors. However, Helix was unable to secure financing to purchase the building for the new, start-up schools.  Helix and its back office manager and charter consultant, 4th Sector Solutions (4SS), turned to CSDC. The non-profit, Washington DC-based CSDC provides charter schools with facilities and funding support, including lease and loan guarantees and real estate development services, and specializes in working with schools that are in their first few years of operation and are located in low-income communities or in communities with a significant number of underperforming district schools.

CSDC’s investment partner Education Capital Solutions (ECS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the $3B real estate investment trust, Entertainment Properties Trust (EPT), is providing the capital to purchase and renovate the building, which CSDC will then develop so that all 6 floors are “built to suit” for both the mission and growth projections of the schools. Under the “buy-leaseback” program with ECS, CSDC will master lease the property from ECS and sublease the renovated property to the two schools.

ECS provided $3.2M for the purchase price as well as an additional $900K for renovations of the currently occupied 3 floors, and will provide an additional $2M+ with which CSDC will complete the “build-out” of all 6 floors. CSDC and ECS have provided a long term facilities solution for the schools by giving the schools a 20 year lease and options for up to an additional 20 years, as well as an option to purchase the building, should the schools wish to become the owner at some point in the future.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Secrest at (443) 561-1280.

Charter Schools Development Corporation (CSDC), a non-profit 501(c)3, promotes competition, choice and innovation in education by financing and building great public charter schools. CSDC covers the facilities gap so educators can focus on closing the achievement gap.