By Kevin Widdison of the Daily Courier
GRANTS PASS, Ore — Before long, the third and final phase of the campus for the Gospel Rescue Mission will begin to rise on Foundry Street, between G and Booth streets.
The building, which will resemble a row of smaller buildings, will have around 7,000 square feet and will serve multiple purposes. It will house a recycling center, work-skills training facility, an area for food processing and storage, a retail outlet and a micro-entrepreneur center to help some mission residents rebuild their lives by going into business for themselves.
The new recycling center will replace the mission’s former facility, which was located just a few hundred yards to the west on Foundry Street. That building is now the Grants Pass Sobering Center, and proceeds from the sale of that real estate is being used to finance the new building on the mission campus, according to Ken Emilio, executive director of the Gospel Rescue Mission.
The new building will also have a drive-up area for people to make donations destined for the mission’s downtown Second Chance Thrift Store. Emilio said donations are currently accepted at the store, located at the corner of Sixth and J streets, but that’s not convenient due to a lack of off-street parking.
The retail store at the new facility will not replace the downtown store, Emilio emphasized. Rather it would be a place where mission residents can receive training to help them land jobs in the retail sector.
“Certainly we’d like to sell some product and make some money at that location,” Emilio said. “But training our residents for careers in retail is really what it’s about.”
Emilio is particularly excited about the micro-entrepreneur program planned at the new building. He pointed out that there aren’t many large-scale employers locally, and for a lot of people the road to self-sufficiency involves going into business for themselves.
“Boutique businesses could be the best way for some people to get out on their own,” he said.
The Urban Area Planning Commission gave its blessing to the project during a meeting last week. During that session, both Emilio and Alan Harper from Ausland Group, the contractor for the project, said that designing a building for the long, narrow strip of land presented challenges.
“What are the alternatives for this piece of land? I’d say slim to none,” Emilio told the planning commission.
“It is a challenging project, a challenging piece of dirt … a tiny, narrow strip of land,” Ausland said during the hearing. “This will be a fabulous resource for the community.”
The planning commissioners apparently agreed, as they approved the project unanimously.
“I see this building as combining the operations of the mission, but at the same time opening up a whole new world of skills training,” Emilio told the Daily Courier. “It’s something the mission has never done before.”
Emilio said the goal is to have phase three construction done by the fall of 2017. He estimated the cost at less than $900,000.
Phase one of the Gospel Rescue Mission campus was the Fikso Family Center, which houses women and children. It opened in 2003 and marked the first time the mission had been able to accommodate women and children.
The second phase was Wagner Hall, the men’s residence hall that opened in 2011. Prior to that, men stayed in cramped quarters at a small building on Northeast E Street that has since been razed.
Prior to the construction of the current campus, the mission had operated as a men’s-only shelter at the E Street location since it was founded in 1983.
Ausland offers complete capital improvement expertise in development consulting, engineering and construction. For more information visit us at www.auslandgroup.com.
Ausland Group | April 20, 2016