Updated: Feb 1, 2019
This article was taken from the Virginian-Pilot Online, written by Victoria Bourne.
It’s been roughly 14 months since members of the South Norfolk Civic League and the City Council gave the green light to a Norfolk nonprofit’s plans to move to Chesapeake.
And in less than two years, ForKids' new regional headquarters is expected to be completed in South Norfolk, according to CEO Thaler McCormick. That's provided everything stays on track, including additional fundraising, over the next few months, she said.
On Monday night, some residents and elected leaders got to see the conceptual designs of the $16.8 million project, called the Center for Children and Families, to be built on Poindexter Street. ForKids Inc. is one of the state’s largest providers for homeless families, according to its website.
The nonprofit, currently based at Colley Avenue and 42nd Street in Norfolk, plans to consolidate its headquarters, education center, regional housing crisis hotline and family shelter into a 60,000-square-foot building on the now-vacant site of South Norfolk’s old public library.
More than 100 employees will be relocated to the three-story, L-shaped structure. The move has been heralded by community leaders as a catalyst to South Norfolk's revitalization. McCormick said the addition of a new research and advocacy center at the facility will transform the organization and help the nonprofit connect on a national level.
“It creates what we see as the future of ForKids,” she said.
Here are other highlights of the new headquarters:
The education center’s capacity will nearly triple in size with five classrooms and four tutoring rooms and the ability to serve up to 120 children.
It will double the capacity of its housing crisis hotline, which fielded 45,552 calls last year, according to a ForKids spokeswoman.
There will be flexible shelter space with 96 beds to accommodate up to 20 families of any size. Families typically stay 30 to 40 days before being rehoused.
A 75-seat kitchen and dining space will serve sheltered families, as well as children participating in the education center's after-school programming. That's roughly 150 meals per night.
There will be a 4,000-square-foot rooftop garden, as well as multiple pieces of artwork around the building. A large, interactive piece for children is planned for an outdoor courtyard, as well as a children’s library under the stairs in the front lobby.
Space for donation processing and warehousing. Good Mojo, ForKids’ thrift store on Granby Street, is expected to move into retail space in South Norfolk, according to McCormick.
The new center is part of a $20 million capital campaign that includes last month’s grand opening of the nonprofit’s new $2.25 million Western Tidewater regional headquarters in downtown Suffolk.
McCormick said they can start moving dirt in South Norfolk by late April, provided the nonprofit raises $4 million of the $6 million still needed for the project.
McCormick said the design of the long, skinny building was a challenge. They wanted to avoid an institutional appearance and craft a facade that suits the historic look of the area, as well as provide a friendly, approachable appeal, she said.
“I love it,” said resident Suzy Loonam. “I think it will blend right in.”
Vicki Josue, the civic league’s immediate past president who was recently hired by ForKids as a volunteer manager, said the project is going to transform Poindexter Street. The center should come online the same year as a new 22nd Street Bridge, which was closed in August, she added.
Her husband, Joe Josue, a local business owner, said residents want a vibrant community.
“It was at one time," he said, "and can be that way again."
Victoria Bourne, 757-222-5563, firstname.lastname@example.org