Wermers Donate "The Center" to Community

Donation of commercial shopping center to Borrego Valley Endowment Fund is transformative gift for Borrego Springs


Last updated 2/15/2024 at 10:20am

In one of the largest philanthropic donations in Borrego Springs’ history, Anne and Jim Wermers, long time Borrego Springs residents and philanthropists, have donated “The Center” to the non-profit Borrego Valley Endowment Fund (BVEF) for the long-term benefit of the community. The transaction, which closed November 15, 2023, is valued at more than $2.5 million. The Center is one of two major retail commercial centers in Borrego Springs.

“Borrego is such a special place. We want to help preserve Borrego’s unique community spirit,” said Jim Wermers. “We feel The Center, a physical asset with positive cash flow, in the right hands, can be a means to ensure our philanthropic vision. We believe the right organization to entrust with this vision is the BVEF.”

The Center, located at 590 Palm Canyon Drive, is comprised of three buildings totaling 32,000 square feet that house the Center Market, the Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center, the Frugal Coyote Thrift Shop, Pabilto’s Restaurant as well as other retail, professional, and non-profit operations.

“Through their extraordinary generosity, vision, and love of Borrego, Anne and Jim’s gift creates impactful philanthropic support for the Borrego Springs community for decades to come,” said David Garmon, Chair of the BVEF Board of Directors. “We are humbled that Anne and Jim have entrusted the BVEF with this transformative gift to the community.”

The Wermers purchased The Center in 2016 to help secure the economic vitality of Borrego Springs. At the time of their purchase, The Center had endured years of deferred maintenance. Since then, significant investments were undertaken by the Wermers, including removal of an outdated gas station, installing a new sewer system, bringing the premises into ADA compliance, and adding a 500-panel Solar system to the roof. The Center now enjoys full occupancy with clean, friendly, inviting spaces.

In alignment with the vision of the Wermers, The Center will continue to operate with proceeds going to BVEF for the benefit of the community.

“After a lot of careful consideration and soul-searching, Anne and I decided to gift the Center to the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund,” Jim Wermers said in a statement. “We greatly admire the mission and the commitment of the Endowment Fund and are confident that it will maintain high standards. Our goal is to ensure that the Center forever remains a vital part of Borrego Springs.”

Through the years, during their ownership, many changes were done.

The Center was connected to the public sewer. The old service station and gas tanks were removed. The driveways, curbs, sidewalks, and parking lot were extensively rebuilt. The entire roof was redone and over 500 Solar panels were added. The Performing Arts Center underwent extensive improvements. New trees and landscaping were added, a new building paint scheme was implemented, the fountain was rebuilt, ADA improvements were added throughout the Center, new restrooms were constructed and old restrooms were upgraded. Dark Sky parking lot lighting was installed. The list goes on.

Susan Percival will also remain as the manager of the Center.

“Anne and I have been blessed with the opportunity to have worked with Susan for all these many years. She is a knowledgeable and caring manager with strong roots in Borrego Springs,” Jim Wermers said.

He adds, “This commitment to progress and prosperity will continue with the new owners. They are fully on-board to maintain and improve all aspects of the Center. They are also committed to improving our community now and into the future.”

“When Jim first presented this idea, I thought he was completely bonkers. But after my smooth-talking husband explained the concept, I was totally sold. Then our task became selecting an organization that would understand our vision and have the ability to operate the property. These considerations brought us to the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund,” said Anne Wermers.

Founded in 1994, the Borrego Valley Endowment Funds seeks to harness the power of philanthropy for the benefit of the Borrego Springs community. For more information on how your tax-deductible gift can help secure a sound future for the Borrego Springs Community please go to https://www.bvefund.org.