Originally created 03/09/06

Nonprofit set to get $71 million



A $107 million community center to be constructed by The Salvation Army in Augusta's Harrisburg community is one step closer to reality, officials announced Wednesday.

The Salvation Army's $71 million preliminary application to construct the community center through a grant funded by the estate of McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc was approved recently, Salvation Army Maj. James Hall said at a news conference outside the organization's Augusta headquarters on Greene Street.

The Augusta Kroc Center will be used as a model for all future Kroc centers nationwide, officials also announced.

The hard work isn't over, Maj. Hall said.

"Getting the format application approved means that now we have to prove we can do what we said we want to do," Maj. Hall said.

The Salvation Army must raise $35 million to help put up the center on more than 30 acres in the Chafee Park area. The organization will conduct a feasibility study to determine the amount of financial support the community is willing to provide, officials said.

There is "something for everyone" when it comes to donating to the project, Maj. Hall said. People with interests in the arts can specify their money go toward the community center's arts programs, he said.

The Kroc estate will help donations by giving $2 for every dollar raised locally, officials said.

Augusta's Kroc Center will include Boys and Girls Club athletic space and teen activities, and will also offer facility space for 54 nonprofit services such as the United Way of the CSRA.

The center will provide arts and educational programs and a worship center and will house the Salvation Army Enterprise Team Skills Training facility.

Initially, The Salvation Army asked for a $65 million grant, said Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale, the president of the Salvation Army advisory board.

Officials had replied, though, that it wasn't enough money to build the center, so the organization submitted an application for $71 million, which was recently approved, he said.

Augusta will receive about 20 percent of the $370 million set aside by the Kroc estate to build community centers in the Southeastern United States, Judge Wheale said.

"Not only did they say they believe in Augusta, but they're going to model all the Kroc centers nationwide after this project here in Augusta," he said.

Construction of the center is expected to begin in a year and will use local labor and construction businesses, officials said.

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.

The Back Story

THE KROC CENTER

BACKGROUND: Augusta's efforts to secure a Kroc Community Center publicly began in August 2005, about 18 months after The Salvation Army announced the late Joan Kroc, heiress to the McDonald's fortune, had left the nonprofit organization $1.5 billion. Mrs. Kroc asked that the money be used to construct and support community centers combining family, youth development and recreation.

DEVELOPMENTS:

- On Oct. 18, an announcement came that the state Salvation Army had approved the local application for a $65 million Kroc Center grant. The local organization later decided that sum wasn't enough.

- On Wednesday, Salvation Army Maj. James Hall said a larger, $71 million preliminary application has won approval.