Perhaps you expected it. The Board took World Vision a step closer to relocating our National Office in East Burwood.
This week we shall offer $4 million to the ABC for part of their land on Springvale Road.
At the same time, the Blackburn Baptist Church will offer $2 million and New Life Retirement Villages will offer $3 million for other parts of the same land.
We are offering the most simply because we are asking for the most valuable piece. Land for office buildings is expensive.
We are asking for 2.31 hectares. This will be enough for us to build a new two storey building of about 6,500 square metres. Such a building will cost around $9 million.
Is This A Good Deal? That's an Awful Lot Of Money!
I'd rather spend $13 million on the poor, wouldn't you?
Because I think we would all say YES to that proposition, I want you to know that we are only doing this because the long term impact on the poor will be better.
Here is how.
In the first place we are buying more land than we need and at a bargain price. Commercial land in this area normally sells for three or four times what we shall pay.
Some time in the future we plan to develop the part of the land we do not need. We'll sell it, or build an extra building which can provide a stream of income to World Vision. In other words, our plan is to get our money back. And more, if possible.
Then, of course, we shall sell 161 Sturt Street and it should raise enough money to pay for the new building. Our aim is for a zero sum deal, but there are many variables.
The worst case is that this deal may cost a few million dollars. That is a lot of money, but it is still cheaper than renting. Rent for a building big enough for us is around $800,000 per year!
Our aim is to get cheapest accommodation consistent with our needs for an efficient, business-like environment.
When is this happening?
Don't panic. It looks like we won't move before the second half of 1992.
One reason this land is good value is that we are getting in early. There is work to be done to subdivide and rezone the land. The ABC could not do this on their own. We join with them, and share the benefits.
The subdivision and rezoning will probably take 12 months.
The deal we have with the ABC means that if there is any problem with the rezoning, and we cannot use the land to build our office, they will refund the money.
Likewise, if one of the others taking part in the deal drops out, the ABC has the option to withdraw.
But I live in Woop-woop!
We looked in this area because it is near the centre of population of Melbourne. It's also near the centre of gravity of our staff.
Eleven of our colleagues live in areas like Hopper's Crossing, Melton or further west or south-west. By train it adds 22 kilometres to their journey. By car a little less.
I am asking Merilyn to develop a compensation policy for cases of special hardship. Perhaps we should subsidise the fares of such people. Let's wait and see what Merilyn recommends (you can lobby her in the meantime!).
24 of our colleagues live 30 kilometres or more away from South Melbourne in the east, in places like Belgrave, Montrose, Coldstream and Dandenong. Most of them will find the new location much better.
Why don't we make a statement for the poor?
A few colleagues would like to see World Vision located in Fitzroy or St Kilda. Where the poor are, there should World Vision be also.
I like that sentiment.
But we do have to recognise that we are an organisation that serves two customers. World Vision exists for people in project communities and the supporters.
Our work among the poor in Australia, though important, is a small part of our organisational life.
My dream for our new National Office is that it will be an open, inviting place that will encourage volunteers to come and help us accomplish our task of linking people together in ways that empower them to transform their worlds.
We want to create an open and friendly environment. A place where we can see each other easily. One which lends itself to communication and conversation. A place that enhances our sense of family and team work. Our present tall thin tower is a major barrier to these goals.
I dream of a place where volunteers can come easily, maybe even for an hour or two. Where we can help them with child minding (I'm told this is no small idea).
I dream of a light, airy, energy efficient building that looks out onto the green of God's nature, and the varied colours of Australian suburban life.
I look forward to moving in with you all, confident of having achieved a result that expresses our core value commitment to good stewardship without diminishing our commitment to the poor, to one another or to Christ.