The Presbyterian Student Center Foundation, more commonly known as Pres House on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, closed Dec. 15 on a five-year refinance of the $15.2 million debt it carries from building student apartments and renovating its historic chapel.
Pres House has had a presence at the university since its founding in 1907. It provides student housing and uses the revenue for its ministries — scholarships, worship, small groups, service trips, volunteer work, pastoral counseling and an on-site chaplain.
The refinance renewed Pres House’s original financing of $17 million with Associated Banc-Corp, a diversified regional bank. But this time another partner was at the table — the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.
The synod loaned $2.5 million of the refinanced amount directly to Pres House, reducing the amount secured by Associated to $12.7 million.
Pres House is a ministry of the synod.
Real estate lending regulations and standards have become much stricter since Pres House first borrowed money for the building and renovation projects, said the Rev. Mark Elsdon, executive director of Pres House.
“As our initial five-year letter of credit came up for renewal in 2011 we found that we needed an additional partner in order to secure the most favorable financing terms and provide the strongest financial future for Pres House,” he said.
While Pres House had paid down its original financing by $1.8 million, when it came time to refinance, the amount of debt Associated Banc-Corp could support had decreased.
About one year ago, Pres House approached the Synod of Lakes and Prairies to ask if the synod would become a financial partner when it came time to refinance. After looking at Pres House’s growing ministry and its solid financial position, the synod agreed.
The Rev. Phil Brown, synod executive, said, “Pres House is a renewed, vibrant and expanding ministry of the synod at the center of the Madison campus and we’re enthusiastic to be able to provide this support which not only improves their financial position, but further enables their creative ministry. We are happy to embrace this creative partnership while we invest in the lives of young people.”
Elsdon said, “This step is significant at a time when the Presbyterian denomination has been cutting support for campus ministry nationwide year after year. It is a creative partnership that benefits all parties.”
The partnership enables Pres House to borrow funds from Associated Banc-Corp and the synod at a competitive interest rate and continue to increase its mission impact on campus.
“Pres House is blessed, the synod is blessed and ultimately the students who will live, worship, pray, serve and grow at Pres House the coming decades will be blessed by this creative partnership,” Elsdon said.
Elsdon encouraged PC(USA) to “find yet other creative ways” to used its financial resources to “support dynamic ministry in churches and mission agencies.”