Fort Mill Care Center on borrowed time; Search for a new building continues

joverman@fortmilltimes.comMay 14, 2013 

— The Fort Mill Care Center continues its search for a new home.

In the months since the Care Center has been on the lookout, the not for profit relief agency found only one building that suits their needs, officials said this week.

By July 1 the Fort Mill School District, which owns the Banks Street property where the Care Center is located, is moving all district programs and services out of the building and into the former district office to save money on utilities. The district, which has allowed the Care Center to operate in the building rent- and utility-free for close to 15 years, will close the building as soon as the Care Center can find a new home.

The cost savings to the district will be an estimated $225,000, officials said.

The center has a relocation committee made up of four board members. Two realtors are also aiding in the search, director Carol Higgins said. So far, they’ve turned up one building on Elliott Street, a former church that is currently available for lease and fits the Care Center’s criteria.

Preliminary discussions have begun with the building’s owners, she said. However, things are moving slowly, Higgins emphasized, and nothing is firm.

“This is our best bet so far,” director she said. “It would be a great location because it's not in anyone's way. Our clients could get to us easily.”

They’re taking it one step at a time, Higgins said, and trying to stay positive.

“That’s all we can do.”

The Care Center originally hoped to find a building that’s at least 7,000 square feet, but as they’ve gotten further along in the search, they’ve said that they could work with 5,000 square feet. The center’s food pantry – nearly 3,000 square feet – takes up the bulk of the space, Higgins said.

The Elliot Street property is 4,800 square feet, Higgins said.

The rest of the center, office space where clients can sign up for assistance paying utility bills and for prescription medication, can operate in close quarters if necessary, Higgins added.

There’s one nonnegotiable in any building they consider, Higgins added. The building must be close to the center of town to best serve clients.

“We don’t have public transportation, so we have to be close to our clients. Some of them don’t have cars and have to walk to us,” Higgins said. “And if they do have a car, a tank of gas is expensive.”

In March, the Care Center provided 20,725 total pounds of food for 714 people. They provided $12,845 in assistance for utilities and $1,547 for prescription medications.

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