The city of Union will apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) on behalf of Grace’s Place, which is in the process of purchasing the former Rainbow Activity Center building on North Christina Avenue.
City Administrator Russell Rost presented the request to the personnel, finance and public works committee Monday night.
Grace’s Place provides emergency shelter to youth in Franklin and surrounding counties.
It currently has a facility in Washington. In October, an expansion of the program now allows for the care of up to eight children up to age 18 at a time.
Amanda Jones, executive director, said the Union location will allow for the care of an additional six to eight children up to age 18.
In November 2015, Grace’s Place purchased property from the city of Union at the corner of Grant Street and Union Avenue where it hoped a new facility could be built.
After the purchase, it was discovered that a portion of the lots was deed restricted after being bought by the city during a flood buyout, therefore it could not be developed. The city of Union purchased the property back from Grace’s Place at that time.
“We want to be in Union because there are so many resources families can access there,” Jones said, adding that the ideal location was on the north side of Highway 50, near parks and schools.
“But the city is so developed that it’s hard to find land to build on,” she added.
Rainbow Activity Center, now known as Rainbow Abilities Center, had been operating a day habilitation service center for adults with developmental disabilities from two locations, one on Christina Street and then from a second building off Highway 50 near Junie Moon restaurant.
The organization purchased 3 Prairie Dell Plaza, near the Great 8 Cinema, owned by Union resident Peggy Piotraschke. The building formerly housed Nothing Fancy Cafe before the restaurant moved back to Washington Avenue and then ultimately closed.
Piotraschke gave Rainbow a generous sale price in memory of her mother, Myrtle Piotraschke, who loved children and founded The Walker Scottish Rite Clinic, which helps children with speech and language disorders learn communication skills necessary to succeed throughout their lives.
Rainbow approached Grace’s Place with the idea for them to purchase the building.
Because of the services Rainbow Activity Center provided, the building is ADA compliant, Jones said.
Renovations will be made to add bedrooms and restrooms for children.
Jones said the goal is to have renovations completed by early 2019.
The grant, due March 30, will be for $281,700, which includes the purchase and renovation of the property, engineering fees, city staff man hours and miscellaneous costs associated with the project.
A public hearing on the project will be held Monday, March 12, at the board of aldermen meeting.
“The city has been incredible to work with,” Jones said. “They’re huge supporters of Grace’s Place and want to see our services in the community. They’ve been some of our biggest supporters to have our second home in Union.”
History, Those Served
Grace’s Place originated in 2010 and opened its doors in 2011. It has seen has seen continued growth over the past three years of 30 to 60 percent, Jones said.
“We continue to have a wait list of families we can’t serve because we don’t have room,” she added. “To add another facility that would serve at least six children is huge for our community.”
Jones said homelessness continues to be a problem and some families are being sent outside of the county for resources. The new facility will allow an opportunity to serve more families.
Last year 161 children were served a total of 958 instances.
“Our goal is to eliminate and reduce child abuse in our communities, to catch families before abuse or neglect or before needs are unmet,” Jones said.