Six years ago, the Chestnut Hill Community Centre faced the prospect of insolvency and closure for building code and ADA violations.
Six years ago, the Chestnut Hill Community Centre faced the prospect of insolvency and closure for building code and ADA violations. At the time, the board voted to liquidate. Board resignations and conversations with potential buyers followed.
A new volunteer board of directors was selected to determine the more than 100-year-old institution’s future, including that of the more than 200-year-old historically certified building and to recommend a solution. The new board of directors soon realized that the building was in worse physical and financial condition than expected and that to do its task responsibly, it needed architectural, engineering and financial advisors. Board member Chuck Woodward generously provided “seed money” that enabled the needed help.
As was mentioned in the Local’s Aug. 17 article, we’ve already completed a variety of improvements to the building, including remediating it of asbestos, putting on a new roof and giving it a new exterior paint job. With this last $750,000, we’ll be able to go ahead with the next and most important step – to construct a planned addition that would be located on the Ardleigh Street side of the property, on the side of the building that faces the parking lot.
We’ve repeatedly been asked by community members why this addition is necessary, so we feel it is important to explain.
The purpose of the addition is to create more rentable commercial space for future tenants. We need the revenue that the additional commercial space would provide in order to offset the cost of renting to local nonprofits at below-market rates. And because one of our key objectives is to make the building financially self-sustaining, the rents need to cover the cost of construction, taxes and other regular upkeep.
The addition would also accomplish another important goal, which is to make the building ADA accessible with the inclusion of an elevator. According to our architects, it is impossible to install one in the existing structure.
We think these changes, once complete, will provide an invaluable resource for our already thriving community to use for years into the future.
Will Detweiler, Chestnut Hill Community Centre board chair