Boys and Girls Club breaks ground on new facility

The Kenosha Boys and Girls Club recently broke ground on a new 80,000 sq ft. facility on 52 St. and 14th Ave., which is expected to be complete by summer 2011.
“The new facility will nearly triple our program space for what we are doing right now,” said. Wally Graffen, chief executive officer of the club. “We are functioning now in barely 25,000 square feet of space and the new Community Center will give us a chance to increase our membership from 5,000 to 10,000 kids over the next five years.”
Construction on the new facility began this week and is budgeted for $9.7 million, the total campaign budget is around $13.8 million, Graffen said.
The two story facility will house two full size gymnasiums, a performing arts area, computer labs and Kenosha’s first indoor soccer facility, Graffen said.
“The center is going to help  draw people to downtown Kenosha as well as draw people into our programs and our mission,” he said. “In addition to the youth center it will have a dedicated space for Kenosha teens that was planned and designed with input from teens in the area.”
The Kenosha Boys and Girls Club has also formed partnerships with organizations like the Spanish Center, the Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha Community Health Center which will also share space in the facility.
According to Graffen, the organization wants the center to be a shared space in the community and is currently working with other local organizations like Big Brother Big Sisters and the Literacy Center to form partnerships.
The Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha began the pheasibility study for this project in November of 2008. The city of Kenosha contributed $5million dollars in TIF district money to fund the project and the organization was able to raise $4.7 million from the private sector during the economic downturn.
“Kenosha desperately needed a new youth center,” Graffen said. “Our current facilities are very old, outdated and not in the best of shape. This new facility gives us the capacity to help reach more kids and offer more programs and opportunities than we were even capable of doing before.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha currently operates out of two facilities within the city. Once completion of the new facility happens, those properties will be turned over to the city of Kenosha and will most likely be razed, Graffen said.

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