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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy The Boys and Girls Club plans to consolidate several separate properties at its current location at 2609 Fairfield Ave. The consolidation will precede tearing down the organization’s existing building and building a new one at the same location south of downtown.

Thursday, December 07, 2017 1:00 am

Boys & Girls Clubs HQ plans set to move ahead

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

A new headquarters for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne – one nearly twice as large as the one the organization now occupies – has begun to take shape.

According to an application filed this week with the Department of Planning Services, the organization plans to consolidate several adjacent lots with its current headquarters property at 2609 Fairfield Ave. Then it will tear down its existing building and build a new one at the same spot south of downtown.

The consolidation request will be heard by the Fort Wayne Plan Commission at 6 p.m. Jan. 8. A development plan and a request for special-use variance to be heard by the city's Board of Zoning Appeals is expected to be filed shortly.

Joe Jordan, president and chief executive officer, said the new two-story building will take the facility from 26,000 to 42,000 square feet and help the organization expand its focus on teens.

The Boys & Girls Clubs has raised $7.2 million of its $7.7 million goal through a capital campaign with some of that money going to support additional programming and expected increases in operating expenses, he said.

The transition to the new quarters will begin Jan. 3, when programs will move to two temporary sites – Wings of Deliverance Tabernacle Holiness Church, 2502 Fairfield Ave., and Fort Wayne Baptist Church, 2323 Fairfield Ave.

The churches have offered their space for a minimal rent, Jordan said. Younger students will go to First Baptist and older ones to Wings of Deliverance, he said, and the club's feeding program will continue with use of church facilities.

Demolition of the old building will begin in January, with construction slated to start in April or May, Jordan said. Construction should be finished by next November or December, he noted.

Architect renderings of the new building released Wednesday show a front facade facing Pontiac Street with large expanses of glass and construction paneling and a wave-like roof line canopy. Inside, the building has a full-size gymnasium, and outdoors are a possible pavilion, playground and splash pad.

The building is being designed by Elevatus Architecture, Fort Wayne, and Michael Kinder & Sons, Fort Wayne, will be in charge of construction.

Jordan said the building's second floor will house teen programming. Of the 2,800 youths served last year, 80 percent were 12 and younger, and the organization's leaders want to change that because teens are at a vulnerable stage, he said.

“We haven't really been able to keep the older ones engaged,” Jordan said. “So we wanted to create an environment they would value and do some creative programming so that before they get to adulthood, they see and have a positive pathway in life.”

After researching other successful teen programs, he said, it was decided to create a separate space and come up with a more teen-friendly name for that portion of the facility. That way, it wouldn't sound like teens “were coming into a kiddie space,” Jordan said.

Among the teen-oriented attractions are sessions that will expose them to career paths and people working in traditional and nontraditional careers, and spaces dedicated to drama, dance, music technology and electronic gaming, he said.

In 2016, on average, 400 to 450 children and teens a day were served at the organization's four sites, Jordan said. The goal for the new facility is to boost the Fairfield site number from 325 to 600.

During the transition, “I don't anticipate any drop in attendance because they (the new locations) are convenient,” Jordan said.

Jordan said an open house and reception marking the last event in the existing building will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Jan. 11. At that time, the capital campaign, chaired by Sweetwater Sound's founder and president, Chuck Surack, will be opened to the general public, he said.

Those wishing to attend or contribute should call 744-0998, ext. 119, he said.

The plan commission and the zoning appeals board hearings will take place in Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St.

rsalter@jg.net