In a place where jail cell doors used to clank shut, space for more nonprofit organizations is taking shape in downtown Wilmington, aided by a $1.8 million construction loan.
The Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center Inc. has received a loan from South State Bank to complete renovations to the former law enforcement center and jail tower, helping it to go from 30,000 to 60,000 square feet, a news release stated.
The loan funds construction of an event venue that is integral to the expanded campus and renovation to two floors in the former jail tower for nonprofit office suites, according to the release. The event venue can be used for numerous activities, including training sessions and board meetings, and will also be available to the community to rent.
"It's life-changing for many people," said Meade Van Pelt, executive director of the center, of the basic-need services that organizations provide at the center, from help with housing to mental health. "It's a true place of connection."
Named the Vicki Dull Annex, for the second executive director of The Harrelson Center and reflective of a major gift, the expansion is expected to be complete in early 2021, the release stated.
The interior demolition work and the construction contractor is McKinley Building Corp., owned by Vicki Dull's husband, Ken.
"This has just been a dream for so long, to actually see it come to life now ... it's a thrill," Vicki Dull said during a tour of the center Tuesday.
Tom Barber, vice chairman of The Harrelson Center Board of Directors, said in the release, “The operational stability the Harrelson Center brings to our non-profit partners allows them to focus on meeting their mission and responding to broader community needs.”
According to the release, more than $500,000 of the loan will be set aside for individual office upfits; $268,000 as a $20-per-square foot nonprofit partner allowance; and $250,000 as a loan for partner custom suite upfits.
The remaining money completes the renovation budget of $5 million, $3.5 million of which has already been raised in gifts and pledges. The Harrelson Center’s Unlock Hope capital campaign is underway to raise the remaining funds to repay the loan.
“South State Bank believes in the mission of The Harrelson Center and is pleased to be able to provide the loan to help increase the reach of The Harrelson Center in the Greater Wilmington area,” said Mark Tyler, senior commercial banker with South State Bank, in the release. “We are grateful to have been able to partner with The Harrelson Center for many years to benefit our community, and we’re excited to see the incredible things they will be able to do through this expansion.”
The demolition at the center, which began in November 2019, represents the second phase of the campus overall remodel, according to the release, the first phase having been completed in 2015. The second phase includes:
- Completion of new nonprofit partner suites, shared restrooms and meeting space in the former jail cell tower, now the Vicki Dull Annex,
- Renovations to two ramps connecting the Vicki Dull Annex to the existing campus,
- A new elevator and stairwell, roofing and HVAC systems for the Vicki Dull Annex,
- Installation of a sculpture and garden in the courtyard on Market Street, and
- A courtyard-level event space with a warming kitchen that will accommodate up to 300 people, creating an event venue for nonprofits and for revenue-generating activities to support The Harrelson Center and its nonprofit partners.
The Harrelson Center opened in the former law enforcement center, which was built around 1978, about 16 years ago.