By Danniel Parker
The Salvation Army is moving its facilities out of downtown with the help of a $5 million donation of Chesapeake. It will make room for another, scenic downtown park, city officials say.
The money is slated to build the charity’s new Center of Hope at N.W 10 and Pennsylvania Ave., now the site of AMC Flea Market. The flea market will be demolished to make way.
Ground will break by June, and the Center of Hope should open by fall of 2012.
Every service The Salvation Army provides downtown will move to the new location, said Dan Proctor, the non-profit’s Central Oklahoma commander.
The center will be a 55,000-square- foot headquarters complex that will house homeless, and provide spiritual and social services to the needy.
Included will be a Family Service Center, the Red Shield Kitchen and public Dining Room, Emergency Shelters, Transitional Family Residences and an Operating Endowment.
Proctor said the organization hopes to expand its services in the future, but resources have yet to be identified to accomplish many items on its wish list, such as a medical facility, affordable senior housing and several others.
Chesapeake’s gift is enabling the charity’s relocation and re-construction away from downtown.
Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon said the donation was one of the company’s efforts to add to Oklahoma City’s urban renaissance.
“As the city landscape changes before our eyes, The Salvation Army must change with it,” said McClendon. “Chesapeake is proud to be a part of the Salvation Army’s future, helping provide better facilities and program delivery for the less fortunate in our community.”
Residents and patients of the downtown Men’s homeless shelter, adult drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, and family lodge will be moved to the Center of Hope, said Proctor.
“We see moving as a great opportunity for us. I mean, we had old buildings,” said Proctor.
This is the second announcement of a homeless shelter being moved or built west of the heart of downtown and south of Midtown, in between arts districts. The first was the Homeless Alliance’s WestTown Homeless Services Campus.
Clay, who chose not to provide his last name, is a front desk worker and rehab patient at The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehab Facility. He said he’s been in treatment 10 months, and didn’t think any of the addicts being treated there mind moving a short distance to the Center of Hope.
The shifting of homeless services west of downtown has been happening concurrently with the city’s Core to Shore Project, which focuses on the beautification of the heart of downtown and urban renewal.
The tentatively titled Maps 3 Park will be planted where the former downtown Salvation Army buildings were – between S. Harvey and Hudson Ave. said Kristy Yager, spokesperson for the City of Oklahoma City.
“It’s a part of urban renewal,” said Yager. “We are trying to bring nature back to downtown and improve the city’s economic viability by having park property.”
“We want to bring downtown dwellers a nice place to go to. We also plan to have a lot of interactive activities for families in that park, like soccer and football practices and games down there,” she said.
The Core to Shore program’s proposed central and promenade parks will require the city to demolish many other, old buildings such as those belonging to Salvation Army.