Kroc Center to guide families to help

Product of heir's generosity rises off Broad Street

With a projected opening date of June, the Salvation Army's Augusta Kroc Center is rising rapidly from a 17-acre site off upper Broad Street.


The main building, with 75,000 square feet of space, will include a 400-seat performing arts theater and worship hall, a 280-seat community hall, an indoor aquatics center, a senior citizens lounge and classrooms for arts, music, education and recreational programming. Twelve houses and a historic church are also being incorporated into the project in the Harrisburg neighborhood.

The center, totaling 100,000 square feet including its other buildings, is one of several similar projects in other cities -- all funded through the estate of late McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc, who left $1.7 billion to the Salvation Army to build and endow Kroc centers across the nation.

The multiyear effort to bring the Kroc Center to Augusta included a successful campaign to raise $20 million locally to qualify for a $67.8 million gift that will not only build the center, but also finance its operations through an ongoing endowment.

The Augusta project's design is similar to Kroc centers in Idaho and Oregon, but the local project will have many unique features.

The most notable is the cross tower, which will be named in honor of banker/philanthropist Boone Knox, who led the campaign committee.

One of the project's signature amenities, which is being used as a model for Kroc Centers in other cities, is a "First Stop Center" in a separate building, where as many as 20 organizations will help assess and steer families to programs that can help them.

The aquatics center's water slide will also be unique. The enclosed tube will exit the building, wrap around what looks like an old water tower and go back inside.

The Kroc Center is expected to create 102 jobs.

About Augusta's Kroc Center

- Total of 100,000 square feet on 17 acres

- Main Core Community Center, 75,000 square feet

- First Stop Center, 10,000 square feet

- Sibley Chapel

- First Stop Village (seven renovated houses)

- Eve Street Row (five renovated houses)

- Five-acre park on Augusta Canal

- Amphitheater