Scripps College buys McAlister Center and surrounding property for $7 million

A building has a sign that says "McAlister Center for Religious Activities of the Claremont Colleges".
Scripps College buys the building and land surrounding the McAlister Center for Religious Activities. (Morgan Albrecht • The Student Life)

Scripps College bought the McAlister Center for Religious Activities and its surrounding property for $7.1 million in February, transferring ownership from The Claremont Colleges Services to the college.

Future use of the building and land is “yet to be determined,”Scripps Special Projects Manager Celeste Day-Drake relayed via Scripps spokesperson Rachael Warecki.

Scripps is currently leasing part of the McAlister Center’s property back to TCCS for ongoing use by the Office of the Chaplains. The Chaplains will continue to use McAlister “until a new space is built or located for their use,” according to a statement provided by TCCS.

The McAlister Center currently hosts on-campus religious and spiritual groups as well as worship services and programs overseen by the Chaplains. 

Landlocked by surrounding Claremont Colleges’ campuses, Scripps has “always looked to purchase” nearby property for “future expansion needs,” Day-Drake said, adding that the purchase was part of the school’s larger “2020 Project.”

The 2020 Project, a “tax-exempt debt financing facility,” aims to reimburse itself for the McAlister purchase and other building projects, refinance current debt, make COVID-19-related “adjustments” to campus and have future capital available.

In 2017, the college took out a three-year option to purchase the building, which gave Scripps the rights to purchase the property without immediate obligation to do so. As the option was due to expire soon, Scripps completed the purchase of the building and land in February 2020.

The 2020 Project was financed by a $110 million tax-exempt loan granted by the California Municipal Finance Authority, according to a Sept. 8 Claremont City Council resolution

The purpose of the loan as defined by the resolution is for the “financing and refinancing the acquisition, construction, expansion, renovation … and improvement of various educational and administrative facilities owned, occupied and operated by Scripps College.”

The 2020 Project also includes the renovation of the Balch Hall admissions area and the Drake Wing of Denison Library and expands, improves and equips the Lang facility, the resolution said. 

Since the grounds building has already been demolished for an unspecified number of projects, progress on those projects will continue, as will projects related to preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus, Day-Drake said. No other campus projects are planned at this time.

This article was last updated Nov. 12, 2020, at 9:14 p.m.

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