Olde West Chester businesses anticipate impact of giant new youth club

  • Michael D. Clark
  • Staff Writer
8:00 a.m. Saturday, March 4, 2017 West Chester & Liberty Twp

The newest addition helping to build the Olde West Chester business district’s resurgence is also the largest.

Construction crews working on the $6.8 million, 30,000 square-foot Boys & Girls Club — on the community’s stretch of Cincinnati-Dayton Road in West Chester Twp. — recently finished its outer steel skeleton.

Work continues on the site of the former Lakota Union School — across from the West Chester Post Office — as it nears its January 2018 public opening, said Patti Alderson, board of director member for the Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty.

“It will be another reason to go there,” Alderson said of the thriving Olde West Chester business corridor, which in recent years has seen a handful of hair care/health salons spring up to join other established small businesses and offices.

“People are excited about the new Boys & Girls Club and that can’t be anything but good for the area,” she said.

Paul Heintz, owner of Mojo Running — next to the club’s construction site at 8735 Cincinnati-Dayton Road — agreed.

“It’s a great cause — and we support that. I love to see more and more great and it’s just great,” said Heintz, whose business has been part of the community since 2012.

“The Boys & Girls Club will be a great neighbor for us and I’d like to see even more (development) here because it’s a great area,” he said. “I would love to see Olde West Chester revitalized.”

Staff Writer
Construction continues March 2 on the much anticipated and once-controversial new Boys and Girls Club on Cincinnati Dayton Road in Olde West Chester at the former site of Lakota’s Union School in West Chester Twp. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

But Joe Hinson, president and CEO of the West Chester/Liberty Chamber Alliance, said the club’s impact will reverberate well beyond the immediate historic district, into the two Butler County townships.

“Their new 30,000 square foot facility … will be six times larger than its current location (4845 Smith Road) and will offer many outstanding amenities. No doubt, the Boys and Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty will positively impact the lives of numerous children and their families in West Chester and Liberty townships,” said Hinson.

Hinson credited Lakota Local Schools for helping to make the new club a reality at the former school site.

“Locally, our children need a place they can call their own — a safe and productive place where they can learn, grow, belong and forge their future. With the encouragement and support of our Lakota Schools, our Boys and Girls Club is becoming part of the fabric of our community,” he said.

Lakota officials signed a 2014 collaborative agreement with youth club officials for a long-term, land lease citing prohibitive costs of maintaining the empty school. As part of the agreement Lakota spent $236,000 on demolition.

The 2014 agreement was contingent on club officials raising enough private and state money by June 2016, which officials reached.

School officials have also praised the deal as a cost effective lease given the district retains ownership of the land as compared to spending an estimated $10 million that would have been required to renovate and maintain the old school.

“We are excited to see the Boys & Girls Club making progress toward opening its new facility,” said Lauren Boettcher, spokeswoman for Lakota Local Schools.

“Giving our kids all the skills and experiences they need to be successful isn’t something the schools can accomplish all on their own. It takes many hands and partner organizations in our community. The club has the potential to serve this community’s youth in a very positive way and we look forward to continued collaboration with their staff as they open their new doors to serve even more Lakota students,” said Boettcher.

Alderson said projections now have club finished in December and she expects club staffers to occupy the building then and prepare it for a January opening to the public.

The fund raising campaign to pay for the club and its future operations is continuing and more information — and donation options — can be found at www.bgcwcl.com.

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