The non-profit agency that provides social services in Warren County is expected to soon begin moving from its longtime headquarters on the Otterbein SeniorLife main campus on Ohio 741.
Warren County Community Services, which employs about 200 on a $12 million a year budget, will soon purchase a former school and office building off Columbus Avenue in Lebanon, officials said.
“Our home has always been out at what we call the 741 Center,” said Martin Hubbell, president of the Warren County Community Services (WCCS) Board.
Hubbell said the move is in part due to uncertainty about the future of the building in future phases of Union Village, the planned community ultimately expected to cover about 1,200 acres owned by Otterbein located around its main campus.
Beyond the long-term plans for redevelopment of the five-acre 741 Center property, Hubbell said the agency had other reasons for moving out of the 100-year-old building, last remodeled in 1994, according to property records.
“Number one, the building is really old. Number two, we are sinking so much money into it for repairs,” Hubbell said.
Otterbein is also expected to move from its current headquarters in front of the 741 Center on Ohio 741 to a new building in Union Village’s first phase, now under construction.
However the early phases of Union Village don’t include either the current Otterbein headquarters or 741 Center, Gary Horning, Otterbein’s vice president of marketing and communications said in an email.
The 741 Center also houses the offices of the team planning and marketing Union Village.
“There are no plans to demolish the building, at least anytime in the foreseeable future,” Horning added.
While WCCS offices are to move, “the senior center is going to stay here,” Aaron Reid, WCCS CEO and president and CEO of the United Way of Warren County, said from his office in the 741 Center.
Reid said he expected to move administration, department directors and staff, although no firm decisions have been made on how much would be moved to 645 Oak St. in Lebanon, a former United Way and school and school board office.
“The 741 Senior Center offers Warren County adults, 55 and over, an array of quality programs, services, activities, trips and information to enrich their lives,” according to the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio.
Visitors 60 years older or older can socialize, eat lunch for a $3 donation, get health and wellness screenings and education. In addition members are eligible for art classes, Bible study, bingo, bridge, checkers, dominoes and Euchre.
The center also provides vision evaluations, computer, dance and fitness classes, group travel, holiday parties and income- tax assistance.
WCCS will also continue to provide services, including Head Start preschool and Meals on Wheels, from other locations around Warren County.
The move is to be assisted by up to $2 million in bonds to be issued by the Warren County Port Authority. The funds are also to refinance debt on a Meals on Wheels facility near the Atrium Medical Center.
Hubbell said he expected “congregate meals,” Silver Sneakers and social events would be among services left at the 741 Center.
Horning said Otterbein was aware WCCS was planning to move some of their offices.
“From Otterbein’s perspective, we are thrilled to have WCCS right where they are, and I know that WCCS is appreciated by Otterbein residents. And while phase one of Union Village is under development, we are several years away from any construction that might require decisions on the building,” Horning added.
In 2014, WCCS planned to move into a $3 million to $4 million facility to be built in Lebanon, but never made the move. The city of Lebanon planned to use state funds for redevelopment of racetracks abandoned after the legalization of racinos in Ohio left behind to help the project come to fruition.
“We have been talking about a facility forever,” Hubbell said.
The building at 645 Oak St. in Lebanon is only six miles from the 741 Center.
Hubbell said WCCS has already spent about $1.2 million on repairs there in the past 10 years. He said the move into Lebanon, the county seat, was preferable to sinking more money into the 741 Center.
“It just makes financial sense,” he said. “This is a great thing for us.”
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