The former ShopKo building in Greenfield was purchased at auction Wednesday by Highland County Community Action Organization, and is set for a $1.8 million renovation to consolidate the nonprofit’s Greenfield area services.
Contacted Thursday by The Times-Gazette, executive director Julia Wise said that Community Action won an online bid for the building at $275,500. The building was formerly occupied by Pamida, a subsidiary of ShopKo, and sat empty for a number of years after the store closed.
“Fortunately, we got it under what we ever dreamed we would get it for,” Wise said. “It was probably a quarter of the cost they’d been marketing. We’re excited for the opportunity.”
According to Wise, Community Action will use approximately 18,000 of the more than 36,000 square footage in the building to house services already available in Greenfield. Wise said Community Action is seeking a partner to occupy the remaining space.
Wise said no federal or state funds were used to purchase the building.
“I think sometimes people think that we’re a government entity,” Wise said, “but we’re a private nonprofit.”
Most of the funding, according to Wise, will come from charitable foundations with which Community Action is connected, although if it comes down to it, Wise said the organization won’t hesitate to seek other financing options.
Wise said over the next 18-24 months, Community Action will be raising $1.8 million for renovations.
“This whole change is not going to happen overnight,” she said, adding that completion of the project may take longer than two years.
“We’re going to have to work to get the funding,” Wise said. “We really want it to be from private foundation money… We have the cash on hand to purchase the facility outright, and we have an architect and a draft of some initial plans, but we want to make sure that when we get into that facility, we set it up right. We want it to be what we need, not just what we can afford at this time.” She said that seeking state or federal funds for the renovations would be a last resort.
According to Wise, the building will house Community Action’s early-childhood Head Start program, senior nutrition, health programs and emergency services. Wise said those services have been previously available in Greenfield, but not under the same roof.
“It’s been that way for almost 30 years,” Wise said.
Organizers hope to expand daycare services with the additional floorspace, since local employers and Community Action clients agree Highland County has a shortage of daycare services, especially for people who work third-shift jobs, Wise said.
In addition, Wise said she hopes the building will allow a larger area for seniors to spend time.
“We want to make our senior nutrition area a more open environment for seniors to come during the day and do activities and crafts,” she said.
Wise said she hopes to get other community organizations and services involved, such as the Highland County Health Department and Family Recovery Services.
“If the health department wants to come do shots, they can,” she said, “and if FRS wants to come and do counseling on sight, we want to open those doors, too. We all have the same goal, obviously, to help our community and help our residents.
Wise said the decision was prompted by the result of Community Action consolidating their Hillsboro services at the Hi-Tec Center north of town.
“People didn’t have to bring their kids to Head Start, then drive all the way across to town for the food pantry,” she said. “We just want to be able to bring it all under one roof… We want to open doors.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.
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