A nearly 200-year old social services group, which provides foster care, homeless, mental health and education programs to city youths, is selling part of its real estate portfolio in the city.
Sheltering Arms is selling off three office floors it has owned and occupied since the 1990s and it is relocating to Lower Manhattan and Harlem.
The nonprofit owns nearly 30,000 square feet at its headquarters at 305 Seventh Ave. It recently completed a deal to sell one floor for $7.5 million and it is in contract to sell the two other spaces for similar amounts.
Elizabeth McCarthy, the group’s CEO, said the sales’ proceeds would nearly double the organization’s endowment from $12.5 million today to about $21 million.
“We have almost tripled in size over the last decade,” McCarthy said. “We looked at our real estate across the boroughs and we wanted to grow our footprint and also our endowment by drawing down from those assets.”
Sheltering Arms struck a deal to move its administrative headquarters to 25 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. It’s splitting off foster care operations that had also been located at 305 Seventh Ave. into a roughly 13,000 square foot space in central Harlem. McCarthy said the Harlem lease was not yet signed and that she couldn’t disclose the location.
“It used to be that much of our case load was closer to our offices in Midtown, but as Manhattan has changed, the services we provide have been moved to Upper Manhattan,” McCarthy said.
Sheltering Arms trains and licenses foster parents and places foster children in their care, along with providing support services. McCarthy said that nearly 60,000 children were in foster care during the early 1990s when the crack epidemic in the city was at its peak. Today, about 8,000 children are in foster care in the city.
Other areas of the organization’s mission have grown, McCarthy said, including mental health services, early childhood education and youth homelessness programs.
“Poverty is intractable in many neighborhoods,” McCarthy said.
The organization is also planning to consolidate several offices it operates in the Bronx into one 50,000 to 60,000 square foot space.
“We’ll be expanding in the Bronx as well,” McCarthy said.
Stephen Powers, a national leader of the commercial brokerage firm Transwestern’s non-profit practice, represented Sheltering Arms in the sales and leasing transactions and advised it on its real estate decision making.
“They needed more space to allow for continued growth and they wanted an inclusive and collaborative workspace,” Powers said. “No one is going to have a dedicated office in the new space. It’s really democratic. Elizabeth, the CEO, will have a workstation like everyone else.”