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Column: How a chance meeting at a bar helped a nonprofit buy a home

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Oct. 21, 2016

The Lifecycle Building Center has just been able to acquire its 70,000-square-foot warehouse with 3.5 acres — thanks to the Kendeda Fund’s help in facilitating an acquisition loan.

The property includes a historic warehouse and a newer building at 1116 Murphy Ave. in southwest Atlanta — a location the nonprofit has been leasing for five years. The warehouses are filled with construction materials, from cabinets to doors to sinks to anything one can find in homes or office buildings.

All of these products could have ended up in a landfill, but instead the Lifecycle Building Center resells them at highly discounted prices or donates them to other nonprofits.

Lifecycle Building Center

Adam Deck, Shannon Goodman and Jimmy Mitchell in the historic warehouse on Murphy Street (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“We have crested two million pounds,” said Adam Deck, LBC’s director of operations, who said those products and materials now have an afterlife. Not only has LBC diverted 2.1 million pounds of material from landfills, it also has save the community $1.3 million through discounted products and donating free materials to 90 nonprofit organizations.

The center works with architects, general contractors and others in the construction field to recycle materials when buildings are being torn down or when spaces are being renovated.

“They can get a tax donation if they donate materials,” said Shannon Goodman, LBC’s executive director.

About 20 percent of its products and revenues comes from the film and video industry, which is constantly building and taking down sets.

Deck came up with the concept for the nonprofit when he was working at Southface about 10 years ago. Then, in 2011, he had a chance encounter with someone sitting next to him at the bar at Manuel’s when he said he needed a 70,000 square foot warehouse and about three acres of land.

The person sitting next to him, Harry Jenkins, said he might have just the property. He did, and LBC was able to negotiate a five-year lease agreement with an option to buy.

Lifecycle Building Center

Jimmy Mitchell talks to Shannon Goodman in front of the Lifecycle Building Center (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Goodman said their option to buy the building expired this October, so they worked against the clock to come up with a way to buy the building. They were able to conduct a needed environmental assessment on the property and they worked with a host of partners, including Alston & Bird, the Atlanta BeltLine, Perkins + Will, JE Dunn Construction, Walter P. Moore, and The Integral Group, among others, to help them buy the property.

“We realized our biggest risk was that we didn’t own the facility,” said Jimmy Mitchell, an executive with Skanska who is a past LBC board chair. “Then our biggest risk went from not owning our building to owning our building.”

Goodman said LBC will be launching a capital campaign, estimated to be about $3.5 million, next summer so it can pay off the acquisition loan, renovate its facilities and expand its operations.

“We started this whole organization on $10,000,” said an incredulous Goodman, who started out as LBC’s board chair before becoming executive director in 2012.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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