Cultivating the club: Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville plans for new facility, more space

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By Sadie Hunter

The result of a capital campaign that’s been in the works since last year, the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville announced Feb. 27 its plans to build a brand new, $6 million facility on the site of the former Conner Elementary School, 1700 Conner St.

BGCNI is currently housed in the historic Howard M. Whitcomb building, the original site of Noblesville High School, at 1448 Conner St., and the new facility is expected to add approximately 51 percent more – 33,900 square feet – usable space for the club’s ever-growing membership.

The Whitcomb building is more than 106 years old, and BGCNI Executive Director Becky Terry said to stay there means in the future turning kids away.

“(We) know that with the growth we’ve seen and that we’re projecting, we’re going to have to, at some point, turn kids away, and that’s not an option,” she said. This is not a want, it’s a need, and it’s a need based on our kids and what’s right for them.”

Terry said over the past five years, membership has grown 22 percent.

“The board has done a lot of work to research this project and make sure that it was the right thing to do, both for our organization and for Noblesville. We did a feasibility study several years ago based on Conner Elementary and that site. So, it’s kind of where all our work has lead us to is this point,” she said. “The driving force is the number of kids coming to our facility, coming to our after-school program and the continuous increase year over year.”

Established in Noblesville in 1951, more than 1,000 youth members were served by BGCNI’s programs last year. The club also partners with Noblesville Schools – which buses its students from the school to the club every day – along with organizations like Noblesville Youth Assistance Program, Noblesville Young Life, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Under the direction of Core Planning Strategies, Axis Architecture + Interiors and The Hagerman Group, Terry said the club will be able to provide additional programming once completed.

BGCNI’s gym facility just down the road, directly behind where the new club will be built, houses four gyms and will be connected to the new building that will have several newer and different features than it does now, including a cafetorium.

Terry said right now, the games room at the club – filled with pool, ping pong, air hockey and foosball tables – gets closed down to be used as a cafeteria to serve dinner twice each week for the Meals to Members program.

“So, we’ll have a dedicated cafeteria space where we’ll be able to continue our deals to Members program. We’ll look to probably expand that program to more nights a week if we have the space available,” she said. “It will also double as an auditorium, so we’ll be able to do more performing arts type programs and hold events in there.”

Another huge feature of the new facility will be greenspace, something Terry said is relatively non-existent right now.

“We basically have the strip of grass along the sidewalk in front of the building. With greenspace, we’ll go from zero to at least a couple of play fields. We’re really excited about that. Greenspace is probably the staff’s biggest excitement,” Terry said. “It will give us one more opportunity to get the kids up and moving and out, and again, just new activities that we aren’t able to do (at the current facility.) Right now, the big activity we do is they play with sidewalk chalk on the asphalt.”

The new facility is currently set to open in mid-2018.

“Our hope is to have a shovel in the ground next spring,” Terry said. “We’re looking at probably a 12- to 16-month construction, and then we would move in whenever that day comes.”

Terry said the future use of the Whitcomb building is still uncertain.

“We don’t have something set in stone right now. We have had a couple of parties interested and discussing options,” she said. “The board is hoping there will be a really good use for this space, because we know how important that would be for this community.”

Approximately 70 percent of the $6 million needed for the project has been raised, which has come solely from donations, something the capital campaign will continue to do.

“Six million is what we’re going with for all-in,” Terry said. “Mainly Noblesville stakeholders have really stepped up, and we are hoping to have all the money raised by the end of September. We’re really needing the community to support this project and help us with this next step. It’s really important for our board to not carry any debt on the project, so we’re really hoping we’ll just hit that goal.”

Those interested in supporting the project can visit bgcni.org to donate online or can write a check to Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville, 1448 Conner St., Noblesville, IN 46060.

“The need is real. The space, or lack-there-of, is real, and every kid here feels it.”

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 6 million: Amount needed in total to complete the project
  • 70: Percent of $6 million raised so far.
  • 33,900: Square footage of new space to be built.
  • 22,500: Square footage of usable space at current facility.
  • 2,280: Members in 2015.
  • 1,126: Current members of the club, up 6 percent from this point in 2015.

DEVELOPMENT TIMELINE

  • February 2015 – The Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville kicks off its capital campaign to raise $6 million for a new facility.
  • Feb. 27, 2016 – BGCNI officially announces its plans to build a new facility at 1700 Conner St., vacating current building at 1448 Conner St.
  • Sept. 30, 2016: BGCNI hopes to end its capital campaign with the $6 million needed.
  • Spring 2017: Construction will begin, lasting 12 to 18 months.
  • Mid-2018: The new BGCNI will open.

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