NEWS ARTICLES 2008
Making a Kroc (Center)
A $20-million fundraising campaign to support Augusta’s proposed Kroc Center is set to begin in about six weeks.
“We’re here,” said Derek Dugan, who has been organizing the effort. “The OK is in from national and regional Salvation Army leaders. Fundraising is the final step.”
The firm of Cheatam, Fletcher, Scott Architects has been hired to design the facility. The Estate of Joan B. Kroc has awarded the Salvation Army Augusta Corps a conditional grant worth $60 million. Options have been acquired for all the necessary property. Dozens of arts, education, recreation and social-service agencies have signed onto the project.
Now what remains is one of the largest private fundraising efforts Augusta has ever seen.
The idea of a Kroc Center was made possible when Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, gave more than $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army to build and endow about 25 such facilities around the nation.
About $30 million of Kroc money will pay to build the center. The other $30 million, added to $20 million raised locally, will create a $50-million endowment to pay for the operating expenses of the center.
That means that once the center is build, it will always have money to remain open.
The facility in Augusta will sit across the canal from the Sibley Mill. The Kroc Community Center is envisioned as a two-story structure housing an aquatic center, theater, classrooms, senior facilities and arts rooms. A second building will house social services.
Dugan said Cheatam, Fletcher, Scott have been charged with designing a facility that fits in with the surroundings. “We didn’t want modern structure sitting next to the old Sibley Mill,” he said.
The project has been scaled down slightly from earlier plans, in part because construction costs have risen about 20 percent. “We used to have a church and a theater in the building.
Now, on Sunday, the church will be held in the theater,” Dugan said.
The aquatic center will include a water slide, lap lanes, therapy pool and children’s area. Kroc mandated that aquatic facilities be included.
The center will have a 500-seat theater, 400-seat community events hall with a stage, and an outdoor amphitheater, creating three different performing arts venues. Inside, the center will have classrooms for music and dance, as well as “wet rooms” for pottery and painting.
A study of social programs in the Central Savannah River Area showed a need for more senior facilities, and the Kroc Center has added a senior center.
The Kroc Center will be family oriented. Like the YMCA, the Kroc Center is expected to charge a membership fee. However, in keeping with the mission of the Salvation Army, fees can be waived to meet the needs of people served by organization.
Dugan said a video about the effort is being produced. Leadership for the fundraising effort has not yet been announced.
The campaign kickoff later this summer will be the beginning of a long effort. Dugan said he expects a five-year pledge period. Construction cannot start until fundraising is complete.
In San Diego, where the first Kroc Center was built, it spurred development in the area.
Occupancy in a four-block area was 36 percent when it started. Two and half years later, when it opened, occupancy was 94 percent, and Dugan said that was attributed directly to the Kroc Center.
Many expect this project to lead to a similar change in the Harrisburg area.