The Iranian Cultural Society of North Carolina (ICSNC) is a mission oriented non-profit 501(C)(3) organization in service to the statewide membership and community of lovers of Persian culture in the state of North Carolina, USA. ICSNC was established in 1987, and has served its membership and the greater community in organizing cultural events, gatherings, and classes to help grow and celebrate Persian culture.
ARIA CULTURAL CENTER UPDATE
Your 34 Years DREAM came True. WE DID IT!
January 20, 2023
IMy dear fellow Iranian/Americans,
I hope everyone had a great holiday, and best wishes to you and your family for the year 2023. I would like to give you an update on the Aria Cultural Center (our Khan-eh Iran).
- Aria Cultural Center has achieved its Certificate of Occupancy (CO for the entire building).
- The total cost to renovate the building at this writing is $1,690,952.
- ACC Team has raised $1,589,453 in donations and Promissory Notes.
- A final fundraising will be conducted to pay for the few remaining invoices & to hold a modest cash flow.
- We have had an internal audit committee review our finances. The last audit was on Nov-11-2022, and we clearly showed that our bookkeeping is accurate.
- An important agreement that brought a lifeline to our project was the Giorgios Hospitality and Lifestyle Group (GHLG) agreement. This agreement was monumental to completing our project but, most importantly, to ACC sustainability.
- Unit 700, which is the space available for ICSNC use, including the Grand Ballroom.
- Unit 720, which is a dedicated facility to hold our cultural and language classes, referred to as the the Cultural Education and Learning Center.
- Unit 730, which is the small (Rumi Crystal) ballroom.
- A common outside Garden with a gazebo and benches for all above units.
- Celebrate Persian cultural events, having rooms for lectures, poetry nights, cooking classes, movie nights, music and dance programs, celebrations, and social gatherings.
- Offer Community-based services such as professional networking, English as a Second Language (ESL), diversity and assimilation training.
- Enjoy a Persian café and library (in the future).
- Provide space for a Cultural Education and Learning Center, which will soon have a playground for the children to enjoy.
As of yearend 2022, more than 167 of you contributed financially to this project during this difficult time. Amounts of donations/purchased Promissory Notes ranged from $25 dollars up to $350,000 for the purchase and renovations of the Khan-eh Iran building. We collected $780,953 in donations and raised $808,500.00 in the sale of Promissory Notes. This amount includes $231,500 from Giorgios Hospitality and Lifestyle Group (GHLG) for the purchase of all kitchen equipment, tables and chairs, tables settings, and decorative elements, all of which are now assets of ICSNC (more info to follow below.) The total amount raised is $1,589,453. These funds came from individuals living in the GREAT STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA. None of these funds came from outside of our state.
Also, I would estimate that the number of volunteer hours put in by members of our community between meetings, developing plans, and physical labor, was at least 20,000. This is an amazing figure.
I would like to thank the Khan-eh Iran committee members who have met every Monday night since January 2020 and as of today are still continuing to meet for an average of 2 to 3 hours per meeting. Without the outstanding support and hard work of this team under the leadership of Mr. Mike Zibaie, our 34-year dream of having a Khan-eh Iran would not have happened. I love and have great respect for each of them. They stood by me in the ups and downs of this project and never gave up. I must also thank the ICSNC BODs, which met monthly to review, discuss, and vote on every major decision made about Khan-eh Iran.
I cannot thank enough the great team that stayed with us all along; Maryam and Paul Mahoutchian, Mahdi Fahim, Hamed Afshari, Afshin Roshdi, Maria Thoenen, Forooz Salim and Nazi Ahmadi Kite. Also, thanks to Ramin Karimpour and Farazeh Pourshariati for their involvement during multiple phases of the projects. In addition, Mrs. Maryam Moffatah and Ms. Parisa Jabarzadeghan are now helping us with ACC operations.
We are so lucky for the hours of volunteer work provided by our great community members. We might need to add two more pages to name all names, which is not appropriate in this report, but we must thank Sid Pazokian and Alireza Mousavi specifically for their dedication to showing up on many weekends and their financial contribution to the ACC.
I would like to give you a summary of the three phases of this project and give you financial details as of the end December of 2022.
When the idea of purchasing this particular building and how much it would cost to buy was presented, the ICSNC BODs Khan-eh Iran committee, one of the board members said, “but we only have $50,000 in the ICSNC account; how we can buy a building that has a purchase price of close to $1,860,000” Collectively, the Khan-eh Iran Committee said we could do this with the support of our Iranian/American community and friends. We knew it would not be easy, and it would be much like a marathon and not a sprint but having a place to call home was very important to all of us. The fundraising team hit the ground running. The Covid-19 epidemic had a huge negative impact on our early fundraising effort in that we could not have large gatherings where we could share our enthusiasm and present this project in group settings. We were not deterred, though. The team members and ICSNC members reached out to many people, and we succeeded in securing initial funding. We were very fortunate that the building owner A&G/TRI-MED, LLC. A NORTH CAROLINA COMPANY, not affiliated with any ICSNC member or their family, via the broker Griffin Associates Realtors gave us a discount of $910,000, bringing the actual cost of the building to $950,000.00. Their generosity lowered the bar for us and made our goal reachable. We had more than 140 people that contributed to the initial phase of the Khan-eh Iran project in amounts ranging from $25 dollars up to $150,000 toward the purchase of the building.
During this phase, we raised $222,756 in donations and sold $176,000 in Promissory Notes for a total of $398,756. We then secured a $750,000 from North State Bank at 4.25% Interest for 10 years with a review after 5 years. The initial agreement with the bank was to pay interest only on the loan until we obtained a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for the building.
Phase 1 Financial summary:
Final Building Price $950,000
North State Bank Initial Loan $750,000
Total Donations Raised $222,756
Total Promissory Notes Raised $176,000
Closing Costs and Down Payment $222,005
Funds remaining for Renovation $176,745
PHASE 2 (Demolition and Plan Approval by the City of Durham)
We closed Phase 1 of this project on June 8, 2020, when we closed on the building. We immediately started working on Phase 2, the demolition of the walls surrounding the more than 60 small rooms and halls throughout the building and removing the suspended ceilings and worn carpeting in all areas except the ballroom. With many people volunteering their time (over 3,000 hours), we were able to do much of the work ourselves, saving over $80,000 in costs. During Phase 2 we had another drive to raise additional funds. We secured an additional $352,737 in donations and $94,000 in Promissory Notes for a total of $446,737.
It took 14 months to complete the Plans for our building, including Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, Landscaping, Kitchen Equipment, etc. All of this work was done by very talented members of our community under the leadership of Mr. Afshin Roshdi and his team consisting of Armita Mohammadian, Vahid and Simin (Raad) Pouya, Sahar Teimouri, and Mahmouderza Riahi. Plans were submitted to the City of Durham and were approved by July 1, 2021. During this time frame, the best initial estimated costs we had for rebuilding was $1,250,000.
Phase 2 Financial summary:
Total Donations Raised $352,737
Total Promissory Notes Raised $94,000
PHASE 3 (Rebuilding the Center)
We started Phase 3 immediately after getting the City of Durham’s approval. As many of you know, after the Covid pandemic hit, there was a shortage of building materials and labor. Unfortunately, this development added tremendous costs and time to the project. We were not deterred!
The Khan-eh Iran committee realized that to have a building we could all be proud of and due to the supply chain issues/inflation we needed to secure additional funds for the remodeling project. We again went to the Iranian/American community and friends, asking for help to complete this phase of the project. Again, through the generosity of many supporters, we raised $205,459 in Donations and an additional $397,000 in Promissory Notes for a total of $512,459.
During this time, we secured an additional $500,000 loan from the bank to put toward Phase 3 IF NEEDED to complete the project.
Phase 3 Financial summary:
Total Donations Raised $205,459
Total Promissory Notes Raised $397,000
North State Bank Loan (1) $250,000
North State Bank Loan (2) $250,000
|Actual Expenses paid as of 12-31-22 for Completing the Project
|Actual Expenses Paid
|Big Ballroom Ceiling Painting
|Small Ballroom Ceiling Painting
|Labor for Chicago Acoustic Ceilings
|Material for Chicago Acoustic Ceilings
|Material for Floors unit 700
|Labor for Floors unit 700
|Material for Floors unit 720
|Labor for Floors unit 720
|Kitchen Cabinets & Floor tiles 720
|Fire Alarm System
|New walls both Ballrooms
|Purchase/Installation Interior Doors
|Purchase/Installation Exterior doors
|Steel Material & Labor
|New Brick Walls (Veneer)
|Retaining Wall Labor & Material
|Concrete Labor & Material
|Purchase Chairs/Tables/Place Settings
|Exterior Façade/Front Door
|Parking Lot Pavement Resealing
|Final Building Cleaning
|Sattar Fundraising Event
|Exterior Wall Painting
|Base Boards/Labor & Materials
|Granite/Faucets/Sinks for All Bathrooms/Bar
|ASSETS (As of 12/31/2022)
|Land and buildings
|Less Accum. Depr.
|LIABILITIES & CAPITAL (As of 12/31/2022)
|Member’s Loan (Promissory Notes)
|Total Loans & Capital
A final fundraising will be scheduled to pay for remaining expenses/invoices not captured in the above 12/31/2022 estimates to have a cash flow until income is generated by the center.
Proforma (10 years) is available upon request.
Internal Audit Committee
Over the past three years, we have had an internal audit committee review our finances annually. The last audit was on Nov-11-2022. In this audit, the committee members found a discrepancy of 35 cents out of over $1.3 Million in expenses.
Audit Committee Members:
Mr. Paul Mahoutchian: Chairperson
Ms. Moujan Khorram
Mr. Behrooz Mohebbi
Mr. Ramin Karimpour
I greatly appreciate the time and effort committee members put into this project. The internal audit is important for our organization in general but also because of our non-profit status. As a non-profit organization, we should have an external audit on odd years. The ICSNC BODs has approved an external audit of our books in 2023. I recommend that this take place after we complete our 2022 tax filing.
ICSNC is fortunate to have many American friends that are willing to help us because they believe in what we are doing for our community. One of them is the Honorable Attorney Mr. James Jordan. Mr. Jordan has advised ICSNC over the past three years on the legal aspects/issues of building our Khaneh-Iran. He has helped with the bank loans, the GHLG Contract, easements needed for the installation of the gas line, and with non-profit questions, and more. His fees for these services could very well cost over $25K. Mr. Jordan has worked with many Iranian Americans through the years, and because he believes in our need for a place to call home, he has only charged ICSNC $1200 in legal fees. I am extremely grateful to Mr. Jordan for all he has done, but in the future, as our revenue from Khan-eh Iran grows, we will need to hire a Tax Attorney to advise us.
ICSNC CPA/Tax Report
I have been very lucky to have worked with one of the outstanding CPAs in our community, Ms. Minoo Rakhsha for the past three years. She has been doing our ICSNC Taxes at a minimal cost to ICSNC. Thank you, Ms. Rakhsha for supporting us. If you want to review our tax reports for the past few years, you can go to the ICSNC website. This is public information.
In recent years, ICSNC used Excel for its bookkeeping. When we purchased the building, we continued to use Excel to track revenue and expenses. Some people in our community are questioning why we use Excel for our bookkeeping especially with the income and expenses of the community center. I used Excel because that is what ICSNC had been using, and both I and the ICSNC Treasurers had experience with Excel. Going forward we will be using a different accounting system- possibly QuickBooks, but this is something that will be discussed and decided upon by the ICSNC BODs and knowledgeable volunteers available to migrate our data to the new system.
Giorgios Hospitality and Lifestyle Group ”GHLG” Contract with ICSNC
As part of our endeavor to build an Aria Cultural Center (ACC or Khane-Iran) and to further solidify a sustainable model that will benefit our community, the ACC team selected and signed an agreement with Giorgios Hospitality and Lifestyle Group (GHLG) as our exclusive caterer for our center. GHLG operates over 15 key restaurants and is well known in the Southeast, with over 30 years of experience in the culinary industry.
To create a sustainable and self-funding center, the agreement helps us to boost demand for our Aria Grand ballroom, the Rumi Crystal ballroom, and Conference rooms by leveraging GHLG’s marketing, social media expertise, and brand experience. GHLG, also as an exclusive caterer, will bring design, operational, and delivery experience catering gourmet food with the highest level of service.
The agreement was led by me with the help of many other ACC committee members, including our legal team. It is the most significant achievement thus far in reaching our goal of building and maintaining the center. In summary, the outcome of the agreement will help us to:
- Provide the highest catering service (Persian or non-Persian food) to our ICSNC members and guests.
- Achieve Sustainability by creating an asset (IACC), not a liability for current or future generations by helping the ACC to generate the required income
- Tap into GHLG’s expertise in interior decorating, Ballroom design, and kitchen design/flow to create sought-after event space.
- Become Financially debt free, paying off the bank loan and Promissory Notes in less than nine years.
The GHLG partners have personally donated $75,000 and invested an additional $231,500 in business expenses (kitchen equipment, tables/chairs, place settings, decorative elements, etc.) This amount is considered a Promissory Note (PN.) According to our exclusive contract with GHLC, GHLG forgives $20,000 yearly of the purchased promissory notes as a donation to ICSNC. All the purchased items (equipment) are assets of the ACC and hence ICSNC. Finally, either party can terminate the contract. If ICSNC terminates the contract, ICSNC is obligated to pay back the remaining amount of promissory notes within five years. GHLG has clearly shown that they have a keen interest in the success of the Aria Cultural Center. We are proud to be associated with GHLG and consider this agreement a win-win for both organizations.
- My Fellow Iranian/Americans, this is a long email, but I believe transparency is very important for our non-profit organization. We have accomplished something few people believed we could. ICSNC now has a place to call home. We have a large ballroom (Aria Grand Ballroom 5,000 sq. ft.), a smaller ballroom (Rumi Crystal Ballroom 3,500 sq. ft.), a beautiful lobby (2,500 sq. ft.), two conference rooms, an office, classrooms, a garden, and a 2,000 sq. ft. Kitchen. Also, very importantly, we have a dedicated facility for our the Cultural Education and Learning Center.
We would not be where we are today without the generosity of many people in our Iranian/American community and friends. Our business case shows a bright future where we will pay off both bank loans and all Promissory Notes within 7-9 years. On behalf of the Iranian American Cultural Center Committee, we extend a SINCERE THANKS to all of you.
I will be the Executive Director of the Aria Cultural Center for the next three years. If you have any questions about using this facility, please contact me via e-mail (email@example.com) or telephone at 919-280-9737.
Please remember, “Ask not what your community can do for you but ask what you can do for your community.” This is your Khan-eh Iran; let’s work together to make it the best it can be.
Center Update – September 6, 2022
It is my pleasure to report on the progress we have made on your Khaneh-Iran. We are near 95% completion (Grand ballroom with beautiful chandeliers, Farsi classrooms, etc.). Due to Covid related supply chain issues, we cannot achieve Certification of Occupancy (CO) to hold our fundraising event with great singer/performer Mr. Sattar on originally schedule of September 17. The CO is required to assure safety and security of everyone.
My team and I tried hard to make this happen. We looked at other options offsite; at nearby hotels, center’s parking lot with 5000 SQFT tent or garden but no option was appealing or safe or would have met your desire to have this wonderful concert at any place but our beautiful COMPLETED center.
I spoke to Mr. Sattar and asked for an alternative date. He was kind enough to postpone the concert to Saturday, November 26. Even he thought it was important to have his concert in our newly completed Khaneh Iran. My team and I sincerely apologize for the delay of this concert. We hope everyone of you that purchased VIP tickets for both the Dinner and Concert and those of you that bought tickets for the concert understand we had every intention to have Mr. Sattar perform on September 17. I promise you we WILL have a great concert at YOUR Khaneh-Iran.
Thanks again for all your support in making our 32 YEAR dream come true.
If you have any questions about the center or concert, please make sure to email or call me. I will be happy to talk with you!
Kazem Yahyapour, IACC Chairperson
Center Update – May 5, 2022
Please click on the vidoe to see the continues activities at the center.
Center Update – April 18, 2022
Please click on the picture to see the status of IACC or Khaneh Iran presented to the community by its Chairperson Kazem Yahyapour on Monday April 18, 2022
Center Update – March 24, 2022
Dear Fellow Iranian/Americans,
First, I would like to offer best wishes for a happy and healthy Nowruz. We had hoped to have this year’s Nowruz Party at our Khaneh-e Iran but unfortunately the building is not completed because of many issues out of our control. We are making great progress though and construction is now 80% complete. All walls will be installed, covered with drywall and ready to be painted as of March -21. The ceiling in the large Ball Room has been painted, we have primed all the walls in the room and have started the actual painting. Eighty percent of the HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical work has been completed. We are still experiencing difficulty getting some construction materials and finding skilled laborers (plumbers/ electricians/ HVAC technicians, etc.) Also, inflation has been a great challenge for us. Before Christmas I bought five 8×4 foot sheets of plywood for $37 each from Home Depot. Two weeks ago I bought the same plywood from Home Depot and the cost was $76 each. It is crazy but believe me when I say we keep searching for the best prices and trying to control expenses as much as we can.
I am very optimistic that over the next 100 days we are going to complete our Khaneh-Iran and it will be something that we all can be very proud of.
As I mentioned in the past our fundraising for 2021 was unbelievable. We raised a total of $615,638.00. Of this amount, $397,637.00 was in donations and $228,500.00 in Promissory Notes. As of today, our Total Fundraising Amount for Khaneh-e Iran is $1,058,638.00 (one million, fifty-eight thousand and six hundred thirty-eight dollars.) This is an AWESOME accomplishment. Our 34 year Dream is coming true even with all the difficulties during this Pandemic. We still need to raise more funds because the unanticipated increase in the cost of labor of materials. If you hear from someone from the fundraising committee please, please help out if you can. We are so close, and our Khaneh-e Iran will be BEAUTIFUL.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to all the Khaneh-e-Iran supporters that stepped forward to help us get to this point. We could not have done it without each of you. I also want to thank all the members of the various Khaneh-e Iran committees for their dedication and hard work in making this endeavor successful. Many people have dedicated hours to this project. I will forever be grateful for all your help.
If you have free time, we welcome you to come visit your Khaneh-e Iran. I will be happy to show you around and explain what we’ve accomplished and what we still have to finish.
We are excited to have another Charshanbeh-Soori at the cultural center and hope to see many of you there tomorrow night!
Remember ask not what your community can do for you but ask what you can do for your community.
Please feel free to contact me with any comments or for information you may need. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kazem Yahyapour – Chairperson of the Iranian American Cultural Center (Khaneh-e Iran)