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Archive for Tuesday, May 18, 1999

SALVATION ARMY CONSIDERS EXPANSION

May 18, 1999

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If the Salvation Army decides to move, its downtown property could become part of a $20 million redevelopment project or provide future expansion space for a yet-to-be-built Lawrence Arts Center.

With a new Lawrence Arts Center poised to move in next door, the Salvation Army is looking to renovate, add onto or even leave its downtown home.

Members of the Salvation Army's advisory board are looking into several options for expanding local services, including the addition of recreational space, construction of a daycare center and even the opening of a full-time, year-round homeless shelter.

"Whatever happens can be a win-win for everybody," said Phil McKnight, a longtime board member.

The future planning comes as city officials and local developers are lining up a $20 million Downtown 2000 redevelopment project and a $6.125 million arts center downtown. Both would be in the same block as the Salvation Army, 946 N.H.

Several options are on the table, officials said, and a decision could come by year's end.

Among the possibilities:

  • Renovate the Salvation Army's current 12,000-square-foot home and expand into a vacant lot next door.
  • Renovate on site and add a satellite facility elsewhere, possibly for recreation.
  • Relocate the organization's entire operation to a new site outside of downtown. A new building -- at least 30,000 square feet -- could provide space for a double-gym, a daycare center and a full-time, year-round homeless shelter big enough for 50 beds, including separate accommodations for men, women and even families.

The relocation concept comes from Jeff Shmalberg, a partner in the group planning to build Downtown 2000, which calls for 53,000 square feet of retail, 45,500 square feet of offices, 24 loft-style apartments and a four-level, 575-space parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire. A new arts center would be built just north of the Salvation Army's vacant lot.

If the Salvation Army wants to move, Shmalberg has a 4-acre site under contract northwest of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue that could accommodate a new $3 million, 30,000-square-foot building with plenty of room for parking, an outdoor play area and space for future expansion into transitional-housing programs.

The Salvation Army in Independence, Mo., recently pulled off a $4.5 million project, and Shmalberg thinks a Lawrence version could be next.

"It's very doable," said Shmalberg, who figures the Salvation Army's downtown property could become part of Downtown 2000 or be available for future arts center expansion.

Whatever happens, Salvation Army officials know the timing for future planning is good. Community groups have been pushing for years to create a full-time homeless shelter, and the city's own Housing Advisory Council recently compiled a report outlining what such a shelter would need.

Considering the Salvation Army served an average of 28 people a day in its overnight shelter this past winter -- that's up from 15 a day a year ago -- and officials know the time for action is fast approaching.

"We have to do something," said Joe Takacs, a board member for more than a decade. "Now's the time to decide what we are going to do.

"We've talked about this. The city's talked about helping the homeless. If we don't do something, somebody else is going to do it. And I just think the Salvation Army -- locally, regionally and nationally -- has the ability to do this. We just feel that we can do the job better than anybody else can."

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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