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Savills Studley Broker Donates Commission, Helps Nonprofit Buy Commercial Building

CREW's Orange County chapter recently awarded Savills Studley’s Steven Card its highest philanthropy honor for his work helping a nonprofit purchase a new headquarters.

But for Card, it wasn't about the recognition, the philanthropy award or even the $60K commission check he received, which he later donated.

He said it was all for the kids.

Project Youth OCBF teen Jonathan Lopez and Savill Studley's Steven Card.
Project Youth OCBF teen Jonathan Lopez and Savills Studley's Steven Card

For the 45-year-old senior managing director, it is about helping at-risk kids find some direction in their lives.

“We have to give back to the community,” Card said of his decade-long involvement with Project Youth OCBF (Orange County Bar Foundation), a Santa Ana-based nonprofit that helps disadvantaged and at-risk youth by providing health and drug-free education, counseling and mentoring, among other services.

Last year, Card, a board member at Project Youth OCBF, used his commercial real estate expertise to help the 50-year-old organization purchase a headquarters for the first time in its history.

Since the nonprofit’s founding in the 1960s, Project Youth OCBF has leased its office headquarters in downtown Santa Ana and faced several issues, Project Youth OCBF Executive Director Karen Ruan said. 

“We were in an old building, things were falling apart,” Ruan said. “There was a lack of parking and the homeless in the area became more evident and because we host an after-school and evening programs, we felt like we needed a home so our kids and parents have the feeling of safety and security.”

New Project Youth OCBF educational and youth center at 1605 E. 17th St. in Santa Ana.
New Project Youth OCBF educational center at 1605 East 17th St. in Santa Ana

Card began calling other brokers in town for a building. He received a tip that an 8K SF Class-A building at 1605 East 17th St. in Santa Ana’s Cabrillo Park neighborhood was soon going to be listed. Once it was listed, Card and the nonprofit quickly jumped at the chance to purchase the building.

The nonprofit received a $15.3M gift from the Jeffrey M. Carlton Foundation in 2014. The gift provided the organization some financial stability and resources to help fund a new building.

Card helped broker the $2M deal and was part of an acquisition team that included Farmers & Merchants Bank CEO W. Henry Walker, whose organization provided the purchase loan with favorable terms, and Dennis W. Ghan of Palmieri, Tyler, Wiener, Wilhelm & Waldron LLP, who reviewed the purchase and contract documents pro bono.

Rather than keep the $60K commission, Card donated it immediately back to the nonprofit. 

“He was saying to us that he wasn’t going to keep the money or profit off this deal. This is for the kids,” Ruan recalls Card saying. “We are so grateful for Steven. It was definitely a big donation.”

Aside from brokering the deal, Card used more of his contacts — general contractors, designers and architects — to help get the property renovated in a timely fashion and at a fair price, Ruan said.

The upgraded building now provides a safe after-school haven for the kids and the nonprofit’s other services. 

For his work, CREW-OC awarded Card the Superior Performance in Philanthropy award in March.  

Card said this was all for a good cause. 

“It’s a wonderful, impactful program,” said Card, who has served as a volunteer and mentors young kids every year. “We’re helping kids at exactly a time when they could go one way or the other. This is an important time in their life.

“To participate and give my time and services on a pro-bono basis, I look at it as being a well-rounded professional,” he said.

CORRECTION, MAY 1, 7:20 A.M. PT: A previous version of this story had Savills Studley Senior Managing Director Steven Card's title wrong. The story has been updated.