Non-profits reach accord on Four Corners property

Point of contention: 260 Washington Street. Daniel Sheehan photo

A dispute between two non-profits over the ownership of a Four Corners property appears to have reached a resolution. Third Sector New England (TSNE) Missionworks, the organization that purchased and began development of the site at 260 Washington St. in 2014, formally transferred the property last week to Urban Guild Inc. (known as The Guild), a social enterprise that has operated out of the space since 2015.

Tensions between the organizations came to a head at a community meeting in November that drew over 200 residents, many of them to voice their support for programming offered by The Guild, which provides various onsite programs and services, such as yoga classes, holistic wellness workshops, and community meeting spaces, all things community members say are much needed in the neighborhood.

According to a legal agreement detailing the relationship between TSNE and The Guild, transfer of property ownership was slated to occur in November of 2018. Founder and CEO of The Guild Jhana Senxian accused TSNE’s lawyers of delaying that transfer, allegations that TSNE denied.

Elaine Ng, CEO of TSNE Missionworks, told the Reporter on Tuesday that the delay in transfer was due to a necessary legal process with the state attorney general’s office that prolonged the ordeal. 

“When transferring a property for less than fair market value to another entity, there are state laws in place that govern asset transfers from one nonprofit to another,” explained Ng. “Under advisement of legal counsel, we needed to go through the AG office to make sure we were meeting all the legal needs...Once we did receive guidance, it delayed the process because it took a year. That entire time we were waiting for a response, but once we did receive one we moved quickly to ensure transfer of the building.”

The move included a note and mortgage held by TSNE stipulating specific conditions for The Guild’s operation of the space over the next ten years; namely, if The Guild attempts to sell the building in the next five years, if the building is not used for charitable purposes, or if The Guild becomes insolvent and fails to maintain the building to legal standards, TSNE could reacquire ownership.

“As a capital partner in this endeavor, we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure it will be a long-term asset for the community,” explained Ng. “The most reasonable way to do that was to apply a note and a mortgage...This is all to ensure the community is the ultimate beneficiary.”