Augusta Salvation Army approved for $71 million for new community center

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A multi-million dollar community center will soon be built in the Harrisburg area. The center will not only provide jobs, but also breathe new life back into the once thriving area.

It's all possible due to a $71 million grant coming from the Kroc Foundation.

Now it's up to Augusta to come up with $35 million to get the project started.

A multi-million dollar facelift is coming to Harrisburg.

"It's highly visible, highly accessible. It's in an corridor to the downtown area,” says Major Chip Hall of the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army announced Wednesday that its application was approved by the Kroc Foundation, which has billions of dollars set aside for Salvation Army community centers nationwide.

"Here's an organization that says ‘we believe’," says Judge Duncan Wheale, Salvation Army Advisory Board Chairman.

Last October, the Salvation Army submitted an application to the Kroc Foundation, along with pictures of the planned site off Broad Street near Chaffee Park.

The plans call for four different facilities on 30 acres with more than 150,000 square feet.

There would be a one-stop shop for social service agencies, a rec. center, a park, and an arts center fully equipped with a theatre.

The proposal was written by Brenda Durant of the Greater Augusta Arts Council.

"When we designed the center, we designed it so there would be music storage for these organizations, a room to have their rehearsals,” Durant says.

And now that the proposal has been approved, the vision is becoming clearer.

Joan Kroc, the widow of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, will match local funds two to one.

Judge Duncan Wheale of the Salvation Army Board explains, “So if you give $1000, it’s really a $3000 gift. If it’s a $5000 gift, when she matches it at two to one it will be a $15,000 gift. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Augusta must raise $35 million for the $107 million project.

"This at least puts the responsibility in our ballpark where we now have to be able to prove what we said we were going to be able to do,” says Major Hall.

Advisory Board member Steve Kendrick says when construction starts, they want to include the community.

"They will be doing construction work, they will be working with many types of subcontractors, but we have a training program with the Salvation Army to make that happen," says Kendrick.

A feasibility study is now in the works to determine how that $35 million will be raised.

The Salvation Army is looking to the 30 agencies that will be located at the Kroc Center to help with fundraising.

Construction could begin next year.

The Kroc Foundation was so pleased with Augusta’s proposal that they plan to use Augusta’s model for other Kroc Centers nationwide.