$30 Million Kroc center expected to spur Burton Heights redevelopment

The Salvation Army recently announced the approval of a $30 million grant for construction of the nation’s second Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center at 2500 South Division. The grant is from the estate of Joan Kroc, the heiress of restaurant giant McDonald’s Corporation.

Nearly 11,000 children under the age of 17 live within a one-mile radius of the proposed center. Those children and their families will be the primary recipients of the educational, recreational, and performing arts facilities and programs at the Kroc Center.

Those programs and facilities will include a baseball diamond, basketball courts, soccer fields, a swimming pool with slides, a climbing wall, an outdoor playground, a fitness center, vocal and instrumental training, drama and dance. Educational opportunities will include computer training, parenting and literacy classes, and English as a Second Language classes.

The building will be similar in design to the David D. Hunting YMCA, with two stories that include an indoor track and a 400-seat auditorium and a recording studio.

“We think this is going to be a tremendous asset,” said Dave Clemo, executive director of the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA). The neighborhood includes the Burton Heights business district.

The GPNA has been working with developers of the project for the past year.

“We expect this to be part of a significant redevelopment in the area,” Clemo added, “both in the business district and in families moving to the area because of the community center. There’s only one Kroc Center in the US, and that’s in San Diego. [That neighborhood] went from boarded up storefronts and marginal businesses to having two Starbucks within walking distance of the Kroc Center and no more boarded up storefronts.”

The Salvation Army has begun the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise an additional $10 million— a $7.2 million operating endowment and a $2.5 million land acquisition and site development fund—which is required before their territorial headquarters can release the $30 million and begin construction.

The Kroc Center is expected to open in 2008.

Source: The Salvation Army, Western Michigan Northern Indiana Division; David Clemo, Garfield Park Neighborhood Association