Staunton, Virginia

Home of:
Augusta County Historical Society
Historic Staunton Foundation
Staunton Augusta Art Center

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Gallery Hours
Monday - Friday 10-5
Saturday 10 - 4
Sunday 1 - 4

For exhibit and event listings please use the organization links above or logos below.

Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

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Help secure the future of the
R.R. Smith Center!

Moving into the Future

TURNING A DREAM INTO REALITY Four and a half years ago the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art opened its doors to the public after undergoing an amazing $4.3 million restoration that brought this late-19th century railroad hotel back from the brink of total decay. Today this handsome building is one of the premier cultural arts centers in downtown Staunton and the surrounding community. Exhibit galleries, a research library, a lecture hall, classrooms, a state-of-the art archival facility, a museum store,
conference rooms, and unique meeting spaces are all part of the Smith Center experience.

A PARTNERSHIP Three non-profit organizations - the Augusta County Historical Society, Historic Staunton Foundation, and the Staunton Augusta Art Center have partnered to make this project a reality and now share the space in the building. From the very beginning, the project has relied on partnerships those of the three organizations in the building as well as public partnerships with both state and federal agencies, the city of Staunton and Augusta County, and private and individual donors whose contributions amounted to $1.13 million. One final partner integral to the success of the project was the Small Deal Fund, an investment group that assists organizations involved in restoring historic properties. The Small Deal Fund leverages Federal and
Virginia Historic Tax Credits for projects such as the Smith Center, which was eligible for tax credits due to its status as a National Historic Register property. The complicated tax credit investment allowed the project to leverage almost $1 million ($999,610.83) toward the rehabilitation project. The Small Deal Fund was able to do what three small non-profit groups could not bundle the tax credits and sell them in order to raise funds for the project. Without the partnership of the LLC with the Small Deal Fund, the dream of
the Smith Center would not have come to fruition.

SMALL DEAL FUND Historic tax credits can only be used by a for-profit entity; so for the five-year term of the tax credit payback, the Smith Center LLC was established as a for-profit entity. The LLC consists of representatives from each of the three non-profit organizations in residence at the Smith Center. While the Smith Center LLC manages the operations of the building as the controlling partner, the Small Deal Fund, another for-profit entity, actually has ownership of the building (99.99%). By law, on Dec. 31, 2010, the five-year historic tax credit period was completed. Once all fees are paid to the Small Deal Fund by the final due date, it will exit the partnership and return their 99.99 percent
ownership of the building to the Smith Center LLC (the three non-profit organizations who currently own only .01 of the property). In order to remove the Small Deal Fund from the ownership list, a percentage of their capital contribution to the project as well as annual interest and maintenance fees must be paid to the
Small Deal Fund.

SMITH CENTER OWNERSHIP It is essential that the Smith Center ownership be returned to the Smith Center LLC and the three non-profit organizations. If this occurs in July of 2011 (six months after the five-year tax credit obligation is complete) then the amount needed to regain total ownership is $285,486.79. If that money is paid back this summer, the LLC (representing the three organizations) has the opportunity to reduce that amount by $20,000 or more by avoiding accumulations of fees and interest.
The Smith Center LLC is legally bound to repay this money.

OTHER OBLIGATIONS In order to accept the tax credits to complete the rehabilitation project and open the doors to the public nearly five years ago, the Smith Center obtained a construction loan. That loan amount currently stands at approximately $705,000. In addition to paying for the ongoing building operations and maintenance, which amounts to approximately $105,000 annually, the Smith Center LLC and the three organizations have been able to lower that construction debt during the last year by $21,000.

COMMUNITY COMMITTMENT The three non-profit partners at the Smith Center continue to make this facility a premier cultural center for the area. Eliminating the Small Deal Fund obligation and gaining 100 percent ownership in the building will fulfill our legal obligations with our business partner (Small Deal Fund) that brought this railroad hotel back to life. It will also allow us to continue to work toward the sustainability of this building as the cultural, historical preservation, and art center of the area.