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4799 Shattuck now belongs to the people!

we did it - collectively owned!

2016 was a grueling year – I dreaded the end of each and every month, which meant we’d be scrambling for the funds to pay Omni’s $15K rent, with additional expenses sometimes adding up to nearly $20K. We got by (barely) thanks to the faith and generosity of comrades with savings, who lent a total of $70K over the course of the year at 0% interest.

We’d courted a potential donor-lender at the beginning of the year, but at the last moment they got skittish and called off the deal. So, we began putting together a commercial real estate loan application – which entailed getting our books in order. Probably I should have tallied the hours I put into pouring over every transaction ever made, scouring the web for nonprofit accounting tutorials, mastering the ins and outs of Quickbooks Online, and refining our chart of accounts – it was certainly in the triple digits, I can tell you that much!

Finally, in November, when we were certain we’d exhausted our collective minds, energy, and bank accounts, we received word that a potential anonymous benefactor – who’d initially offered to donate a million dollars if we could finance the other million – had agreed to lend us the other million at market rate. We were ecstatic! It was going to work!

Of course, as expected, it wasn’t quite that easy. Since the donor-lender had previously donated to our nonprofit in excess of $5,000, their donation would not be considered charitable by the IRS – meaning we would certainly be reclassified as a private foundation, subject to potential 200% excise taxes on any prior transactions deemed “self-dealing,” and other associated complexities I won’t bore you with here.

Our solution? Sudo Room, which had just acquired its own 501(c)3 status, received the donation instead. Sudo’s Board of Directors resigned, with the exception of myself as the sole Director on both Omni’s and Sudo’s boards, and I nominated Omni Oakland Commons’ (OOC) current Directors to Sudo’s board. That Board then passed resolutions changing Sudo’s name to Omni Commons, amending the Bylaws to match OOC’s, and adopting Sudo Room as a fiscally-sponsored project of its former self.

omni purchase docs

The whole process, including transferring all existing promissory notes, subleases, and fiscal sponsorship agreements to Omni Commons (new-omni), as well as the building purchase documents, consisted of more than 60 contracts and agreements created and signed by over 40 entities in the span of a month. With the excellent guidance of our lawyer, Jesse Palmer, the good-faith collaboration of our community, a lot of hard work and a whole lotta luck, Omni Commons became the owner of 4799 Shattuck on December 7th, 2016.

grant deed

As for my own sanity and self-development, for better or worse I now know a hell of a lot about nonprofit accounting, promissory notes, commercial real estate loan applications, and building purchase mortgages. Now to help a hundred more Omnis bloom!