Ivy Academy leaders will not need to look far to remember where their 2009 roots sprouted. In fact, they'll only need to look across Dayton Pike to see the land and portable trailers that they formerly leased.
The charter school is relocating to 8520 Dayton Pike in Soddy-Daisy, directly across the street from its former location. Ivy purchased a former strip mall and has almost completed its reconstruction into a new, permanent location that reflects its environmental mission.
"Ivy is no longer handcuffed by existing on a leased area," board president Brad McAllister said.
A loan through the USDA helped Ivy leaders buy and remodel the building for less than they were spending to lease the school's former location.
Ivy is the first charter school in Tennessee to secure a loan from the USDA. Ivy was chosen in part because of the wide community support that exists around the school, said Clay Copeland, an area specialist with the USDA's Rural Development Program.
<p dir="ltr">"This school is not one person's vision, but there is a lot of support behind this project," Copeland said.</p><p dir="ltr">The school has more than 30 partnerships that reflect enormous community support for Ivy's environmental mission, said Angie Markum, the academy's executive director.</p>The USDA provided a $1.682 million loan to the school with a closing interest rate of 4.125 percent. The loan is allocated through Congress, and this specific loan is funded through the community facilities program.
"An advantage to this type of loan is that the term goes out a lot longer than a bank can offer -- in this case 40 years -- making it more attractive to nonprofits and municipalities, as we can give them competitive interest rates," said Copeland.
"There is no way we could have funded this project without the USDA's low-interest loan program," Markum said.
The conceptual design of the new building was developed by Matthew Parks, an architect from Hefferlin + Kronenberg.
Parks spent time in Ivy and with students before working on his design. He designed the new building to reflect the school's environmental emphasis.
The school's new main entry hallway was designed to imitate the river. The curves of the wall and the mural that will be painted on them will reflect the outdoors throughout the interior of the school.
"The architects have done a wonderful job of bringing the vision and mission of Ivy into the design of the school," said Jenny Griesemer, board treasurer.
Markum said she is happy the building is no longer a boring box.
The building project began nine months ago and has been the fastest-moving project that Copeland has been involved in from a funding perspective, he said.
"Having a deadline hard and fast like this coming school year served as a motivator for everyone," said Copeland.
Ivy's new location will allow it to increase enrollment, and applications are being accepted for the 2014-15 school year.
Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6592.