Odyssey Community School Board of Trustees announced its intent to sell its 90 Zillicoa Street property to the UNC Asheville Foundation. As part of the agreement, Odyssey Community School will lease the property from the foundation through June 2014, so it can complete the school year in place while establishing their new home for the 2014-15 school year.
“Odyssey Community School is taking an important and needed step for its financial future by selling the Zillicoa Street property,” said Bill Loose, chair of Odyssey’s Board of Trustees. “We have already begun our search for a new, financially sustainable site. We gathered on Tuesday, January 7th, as a school community and discussed the sale plans, and we are looking forward to our staff and parents’ involvement in helping us choose the most appropriate new home for our small, close-knit school.”
“We are looking forward to next year,” said Odyssey Headmaster John Johnson. “Together with our faculty and staff, students and parents, we will make this transition a successful one. And I am glad that the 90 Zillicoa Street site will continue to serve Asheville’s educational community as property of the UNC Asheville Foundation, which has worked with us to reach an agreement that meets the needs of both organizations.”
“This purchase provides an opportunity to facilitate the long-term growth of UNC Asheville,” said Michael Andry, chair of the UNC Asheville Foundation Board of Directors. “The 90 Zillicoa Street property, combined with the adjacent land at 525 Broadway owned by the UNC Asheville Foundation, will give the university a 15-acre area for growth just across the street from our main campus.”
In August 2014, Odyssey Community School will enter its eighth year serving the Asheville community. Odyssey operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, with a mission to prepare students to meet the challenges of the 21st century from an authentic sense of self. Odyssey combines high academic standards with a deep sense of knowing self and encourages a meaningful relationship between the two. Odyssey is a community-centered integral learning institution spanning pre-k through high school with a low student-teacher ratio.
Here’s more – a letter from Odyssey board Chairman Bill Loose:
Dear Odyssey Community:
Seven years ago Odyssey was formed with a vision to provide a complete education for our children.
At that time, the current campus was purchased. It was purchased with the help of several individuals
providing the down payment and a loan from HomeTrust Bank. The individuals’ down payment funds were
loaned to the school and secured by the school property. The loan from the bank, currently amounting to
around 2.1 million dollars was due to be fully paid or refinanced in seven years. That time has come.
Despite our best efforts to try various sorts of refinancing and working with the bank, the bank ultimately
determined that the loan needed to be paid off. Odyssey does not have the funds or the ability to refinance
the property. What does this mean for Odyssey’s future?
The future is bright and the vision is clear, but it will take hard work and dedication from all in the
The Board continues to work very diligently to develop a sustainable financial plan for Odyssey.
We have been very fortunate to find a buyer for the property that will allow Odyssey to pay off the enormous
debt associated with the property. UNC-A Foundation has the intention to purchase the property at its real
estate appraised value. This solves the majority of the debts owed by Odyssey. There are other unsecured
debts that will remain unpaid at this point. However, with the plan to be implemented, over the next several
years, it is our sincere belief that Odyssey should be able to pay the remainder of its debt load and move
strongly into the future.
The plan in a nutshell, with some commentary, is set forth below:
1. Sell the facility to UNC-A Foundation.
2. Put in place a strong leadership team to propel us into the future. John Johnson will remain as
a consultant and advisor to aid the transition and the interim Executive Director. The interim director is close
to being selected. With other staff, the leadership team will continue to organize and provide the excellent
education our children are currently receiving.
3. Locate and secure a new location for the school. That process is well underway with at least two
very viable options already being considered.
This is the opportunity to turn things around, get us out of the majority of our debt, be able to move
forward with what we have learned and experienced since opening and create a way to the future and
ultimately a permanent home for the community. It is all positive. Odyssey is its great and insightful
teachers, staff, parents and children. It is not the physical location of the school, but the people who
constitute its community. It is time for the whole community to come together and work toward the goal of
making Odyssey financially sound and educationally strong. With a positive approach, in the shadow of
what would have otherwise been a very difficult situation, Odyssey’s future will be successful and secure.
If you missed tonight’s community meeting, the above is the gist of what was discussed. For more
information read the FAQ sheet and time-line attached below. Please feel free to discuss your thoughts on
this either with me or with John Johnson.
Warmly and with eyes on the future,
Bill Loose, Board Chair