East End Cooperative Ministry looks ahead to its own building

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The East End Cooperative Ministry is "getting close" to its $15 million goal to build a new center to consolidate 15 programs now scattered over 14 sites in and around East Liberty, said David Dix, the capital campaign director.

With $1.5 million in financing from the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority, which Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced last week, the social service agency is "85 percent of the way there," said Mr. Dix. EECM needs $13.5 million for the building and $1.5 for an endowment, he said.

As proposed, the building, to be called Community House, will be a 56,800-square-foot LEED platinum construction that will consume a parking lot at Penn Circle North and East, behind Eastminster Presbyterian Church.

"This project will allow East End Cooperative Ministry to continue their valuable work in our neighborhoods while streamlining services and office functions," said Mr. Ravenstahl. "By building a green facility, they are helping to further our commitment to make Pittsburgh one of America's Greenest Cities."

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a certification of the Green Building Council.

Depending on fundraising results, construction is expected to begin this fall. Mr. Dix said the board voted to break ground only when it has 100 percent of the money it needs.

"The new building will enable us to provide service 24 hours a day seven days a week," Mr. Dix said. "We are very grateful to the congregations that have allowed us to use their space, but we are limited, and administratively it's a nightmare."

The new building's features will include a central courtyard, rooftop gardens, terraces, and a greenhouse, kitchen and dining facilities, a shared-suite homeless residence center for men and women, a chapel, a respite care facility, an informal cafe, administrative offices, and multi-purpose classroom, assembly rooms and small meeting rooms.

A 30-car surface parking lot will also be constructed on the site.

The project manager is Jaxon Development. Perkins Eastman is the architect.

"This facility will provide the social infrastructure for the revitalized East Liberty community," said Mark Bibro, board president of EECM, "a place where everyone in the community is welcome."

Mr. Dix said the EECM, for the first time anyone can remember, now has people from Shadyside in need of services.

"The numbers of people we are serving in the food pantry, homeless numbers and the needs of children and youth are through the roof," he said. "We are at a point now where everybody has said, 'This is something we are very interested in.' "

In 40 years, the EECM has built a stable of 1,000 volunteers and the support of 40 congregations. It provides rooms and services to the homeless, Meals on Wheels and a food pantry, youth mentoring and tutoring and after-school, in-school and summer youth programs.

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626. Read her blog City Walkabout at www.post-gazette.com/citywalk .


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