Funding the fire recovery for small business

This story is one of several from the May 7 issue about business owners who were part of the nearly $140 million in Small Business Administration loans made in the North Bay from October through April.

In the wake of the devastating wildfires last fall, there are stories of business owners who are making a comeback. In addition to tapping insurance policies and other resources, some of using SBA loans to rebuild.

Read more about business recovery from the October wildfires: nbbj.news/recovery

Two of the three buildings on the Platinum Residential Care campus on Dennis Lane in Santa Rosa were among the 43 commercial structures in that city to be destroyed by fire last fall. A third building just a few yards away only received roof damage.

Each lost building was home to six residents, but all 18 residential care residents had to be relocated on very short notice as the fire swept through the adjacent Coffey Park community and engulfed two-thirds of this senior care facility.

“That night we called dozens of local hotels and motels without success looking for lodging,” said owner Vijay Khiroya. “We got our residents out of bed at 1:30 a.m. and drove them to a La Quinta Inn in the East Bay where 19 rooms we needed were available. My daughters and I also lost four homes to the fires.”

He said it took a lot of teamwork by his 30 employees to prepare residents for transport. However, due to the destruction, some of his workers temporarily lost their jobs.

“We want them back, along with our seniors, but this will have to wait until we can rebuild, hopefully within a year or so,” he said.

Shortly after the fire, Khiroya worked several nights and weekends to get ready to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration loan and by Dec. 31 was able to meet the filing deadline. He was satisfied with the speed at which the SBA staff worked. It took about two months to be approved for a disaster-assistance loan.

He had applied for an SBA business loan 25 years ago and thought it was easier this time, with minor exceptions. The process is different today, with the ability to quickly upload almost everything online, but he wishes there was more space to fill in details. SBA says additional paperwork can always be faxed or emailed for inclusion in a client’s case file.

“It took several appointments with different SBA representatives to complete the application, and they still come back to me from time to time for more information, but overall, I’m pleased with the outcome,” he said.

Khiroya discovered that his insurance policy did not cover everything, including costs associated with newly required upgrades and building code changes.

“We lost our records and my computer burned in the office fire,” he said. “We have little evidence remaining of what was destroyed, including photos of our furnishings, an inventory of equipment as well as receipts, paperwork and documentation needed to file a claim.”

He also learned that the city of Santa Rosa could not find any copies of his previous building plans, and there are other issues delaying the building permit process.

However, a group of architects are already busy redesigning the two lost buildings that will be constructed on their previous sites. The design team includes DCA David Colombo Architects and Integrated Design, Inc., in Santa Rosa and Kadello & Larsen Architectural Designs in Windsor.

Funding the fire recovery for small business

This story is one of several from the May 7 issue about business owners who were part of the nearly $140 million in Small Business Administration loans made in the North Bay from October through April.

In the wake of the devastating wildfires last fall, there are stories of business owners who are making a comeback. In addition to tapping insurance policies and other resources, some of using SBA loans to rebuild.

Read more about business recovery from the October wildfires: nbbj.news/recovery