Construction has begun on Bethesda Mission’s community center expansion project in Harrisburg’s north Allison Hill neighborhood, mission officials said today.
The 9,000-square-foot facility, located at 1438 Herr St., will house programs for children, teens and families, doubling the size of its current location next door.
“Our donors and the local foundations have really rallied around this project,” said Cindy Mallow, director of development. “We are all thrilled to be able to offer the Herr Street community a true community center for kids, teens and families that need a safe place to learn and grow.”
Bethesda Mission has operated its teen center from a former fire station at 1428 Herr St. since 1990. It purchased the property next door, the former Kurzenkabe Press facility, for $275,000 in 2015, according to Dauphin County property records. City Council approved the project in February.
In the coming weeks, a crane will remove the steel beam atop the former printing company building to make room for a full-sized gymnasium, according to the mission. The building will include a multi-purpose room, kitchen, community rooms, classrooms and a state-of-the-art computer lab. Outdoor play space also will be added.
The first phase of the project, overseen by Pyramid Construction, is expected to be completed in December.
Originally, Bethesda Mission had expected to renovate the existing youth center, housed in the old Shamrock Fire Station, and connect it to the addition. However, it later determined that it would be more cost-effective to demolish the existing firehouse building and construct a one-story structure in its place, with plans to add a second story later on, said Katie Andreano, manager of communications.
Therefore, Bethesda Mission now is raising another $800,000 for the second phase, which it hopes to complete by the end of 2019.
“What a difference this community center has made in the northern section of Allison Hill,” said Executive Director Scott Dunwoody. “For nearly 30 years out of an old firehouse, Bethesda has been fireproofing kids and their families to succeed in life. It is our strategy to prevent these children and teens from becoming adults coming into our shelters, and we have and will continue to help them succeed.”