Andromeda and Deb : Raven Place update and potential sale of 415 L Street

Raven Place, our Anchorage writing center/guesthouse, has been up and running for almost a month. By all standards, we feel great about the guesthouse bookings and budget. We’d hoped for 60% occupancy and $8000 in gross income through August, and we’ve almost reached that in bookings – thanks to the hard work of many volunteers who not only helped the place get up and running, but also keep it running as we move guests in and out, earning money toward our winter expenses. If things keep going as they are, summer bookings will net us a couple thousand toward that goal – not bad for a two-month-old nonprofit start-up.

However, there is a possibility that we may end up altering our plan to run a hybrid writing center/guesthouse at L St. this winter — and we wanted writing center supporters and loyal blog readers to get the news first. Due to unfortunate circumstances quite beyond his control, our landlord has been forced to put the property up for sale. Commercial properties can take years to sell, and a new landlord may be inclined to keep us on, but our lease does include a 90-day notice to quit if a sale goes through and the new owner isn’t interested in taking over the lease.

Rest assured that our programming for writers will continue as planned. We’ve got several options in mind for space, and the seed money we earn from our L St. project, whether it lasts three months or three years, will help pay for instructional and event space at L St. or elsewhere. There may be other properties where we could continue our hybrid writing/center guesthouse venture, or perhaps we’ll establish sufficient financial support to set aside the guesthouse plan; successful as it has been, we’d love the chance to turn our full attention to programming. And we’re grateful to our landlord, who has offered to go beyond the prorated reimbursement of approved L St. improvements we negotiated in the lease to full reimbursement of our L St. improvement costs in the event of a sale sooner rather than later.

So this development, while not exactly welcome, will prove workable. Most young writing centers are forced to move around every few years until they grow and settle into the perfect long-term location, and/or become the beneficiary of some generous gift (philanthropists, you know where to find us!) that enables them to build or purchase a more ideal physical facility. Some Lower 48 writing centers of note have existed in abandoned fairgrounds and former toilet paper factories, for example. We will hope to avoid such indignities, but the lesson seems clear: expect change, and keep a sense of humor.

We love our little Raven Place. There is no need — yet — to relocate it. When we do, we hope it is in an even better facility or locale. For now, we just want you to have all the facts, and an opportunity to share your own questions, concerns, or ideas, either publicly (at the blog) or privately (via email to And if you happen to know investors interested in acquiring some prime downtown real estate with great tenants in place ($1823 per month plus 18 parking spots leased at $125 per month each), spread the word!

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