Salvation Army closer to new building

Published 8:26 pm Monday, February 21, 2011

The Salvation Army plans a new physical health and education building that will attach to its headquarters on Bank Street. The organization hopes to have a groundbreaking next month.

The Salvation Army is making steady progress toward a new physical health and education building at its Bank Street location.

The corps recently selected Randy Hicks as architect and had site engineering done. The project soon will go out for construction bids.

The new 22,400-square-foot building, which is planned to be located adjacent to the Salvation Army’s existing Suffolk headquarters, will include a gymnasium and locker rooms, three classrooms, a computer room and a wellness center where medical providers can offer inoculations, exams and other simple health services. The building also is being designed to be an emergency shelter.

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“We are well on our way,” Suffolk Salvation Army board chairman Sammy Copeland said. “With a little bit of luck, we should be getting bids sometime, I would say, in the next month.”

The organization recognized the need for the building after the Birdsong Recreation Center was torn down. A study found that about 1,900 youth live nearby with no recreation options within walking distance.

A groundbreaking is tentatively set for March 25, Copeland said.

However, the group has not given up on its fundraising, he added. About another $400,000 to $500,000 is needed to build and operate the building for three years.

“We can’t just get money and build the building and let that be sufficient,” Copeland said. “We do have to have money to furnish this building, to operate it and to put people in there that can help the community.”

Various charitable trusts, foundations and large companies have done their part in recent months, Copeland said. He anticipates the rest of the money will have to come from individuals in the community.

“We’re certainly hoping that the individuals will be as generous as these other people have been,” Copeland said.

Copeland added that the Salvation Army is grateful to everyone who has donated money so far.

“We hope we’ll get continued participation from the community,” Copeland said. “We worked very hard to get to this point.”