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Salvation Army rec center coming soon

Local Salvation Army officials are nearly ready to begin construction on a new recreation center planned for a Bank Street location.

“We’re coming along great,” Robert Harrell, treasurer of the Salvation Army board and capital campaign chairman, said Tuesday. “The fundraising’s coming along. The site plan went in today to the city. We got some new money that’s come into it. We’re moving along pretty well.”

The 22,500-square-foot building will house a gymnasium, computer lab, fitness and meeting rooms and classroom space for use by the surrounding community. About 9,400 people are living in poverty within one mile of the facility, according to research done by the Salvation Army.

The building will be located on the currently vacant lot next to the organization’s Suffolk headquarters at 400 Bank St.

The organization announced the project and began fundraising last year. About $600,000 remains to be raised, much of which likely will come from grant funding.

“There are $439,000 in outstanding grant requests to hear from, and we expect to get a sizable portion of those funds,” Harrell said in a press release. “The rest will have to come from individuals and businesses in Suffolk.”

Besides fundraising, all that stands in the way of the project is approval to advertise for bids from Salvation Army headquarters. Harrell hopes a groundbreaking will happen in August.

Recent donations to the capital campaign have included $100,000 from Birdsong Peanuts; $70,000 from Birdsong Trust; $50,000 each from Towne Bank, Richard Bennett Trust and Dwight Schaubach; $20,000 each from the Good Samaritan Foundation and Parr Funeral Home; and $10,000 from the Matthews family.

The center is projected to cost about $2 million for construction and initial operating expenses, Harrell said.

For more information on the Salvation Army, call 539-5201.