Sunday, May 20, 2001

Agency purchases part of mall

Offices, classes planned

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A major part of the $40 million redevelopment plans for Swifton Commons Mall is taking place with the purchase of the Elder Beerman Building in the mall by the Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency (CAA).

        CAA will hold a rally from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the mall to celebrate its purchase, said Gwen Robinson, president and CEO of CAA.

        She said her agency paid $600,000 for the building using money from the agency's endowment fund.

        “We plan to spend another $12 million to restructure and refurbish the building,” Ms. Robinson said. “When completed the building will house all our administrative offices, 20 Head Start classrooms, a job-readiness program, computer lab and our weatherization program.”

        Ms. Robinson said she expects the building to be ready about this time next year.

        “We are cleaning it out now, securing it and will get ready to hire an architect,” she said. “We used the money the agency received from a Time Warner settlement several years ago to create the endowment fund. After investing the $400,000 from that settlement, we were able to use the interest to purchase the building.”

        Ms. Robinson said the agency has received $1 million from the city of Cincinnati and expects to get the rest from local banks to complete the renovation of the building.

        The 140,000-square-foot building was an anchor for Swifton Mall for many years. The three-story brick structure is at 7030 Reading Road, Bond Hill.

        The Allen Temple Foundation, an affiliate of the Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, purchased the mall for $1.2 million in 1999. The Rev. Donald Jordan, pastor of Allen Temple, said the church plans to break ground on a $5.5 million church building within two months.

        CAA provides social services to 7,000 families annually. It administers Head Start, a free educational program that serves 4,500 preschoolers in Hamilton County.


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