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New digs split CRC's pantry, offices

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PAUL VERNON/THISWEEKNEWS
Clintonville resident Michel Coconis (left) talks with Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center Executive Director Bill Owens during an open house for the center's new facility last Thursday, July 11. The building, which will house the CRC's administration, is just around the corner from what will now serve solely as the center's food pantry.
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Productivity and produce didn't necessarily mix.

Now that the administrative offices of the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center have been moved from the old headquarters on West Lakeview Avenue to new space at 3222 N. High St., Executive Director Bill Owens said he's amazed how much easier it is to hold meetings, fill out paperwork, make plans and seek funding.

He's pleased, too, that the 14 W. Lakeview Ave. space is now given over to the food pantry and other family-services programs.

"It's been much more efficient in terms of completing the administrative tasks we need to do to keep the agency funded and to keep going on an administrative level," Owens said last week. "We're away from the hustle and bustle of the food pantry. It just makes it much easier to hold meetings and ... complete reports and write grant proposals.

"We had to compete with stacks of onions and produce," he said. "Now the building is completely taken over by the function of meeting the basic needs of folks in the neighborhood."

CRC officials held an open house last week to show off the new building, the former home of Schlegel Construction Products.

"We've been working since the day we moved in to get the building fixed up, both to function and to have company," Owens said.

Settlement house officials purchased the property in early May for $425,000 after a sometimes-frustrating search for a building in the neighborhood where all operations could be in a single location.

It's like having visitors to one's home, Owens said; CRC officials wanted to make sure the new digs were spruced up before inviting people from the neighborhood to drop by.

The 4,500-square-foot building, erected in 1976, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office website, is just 441 feet away from the CRC's older building. It turned out to be the best option after other sites didn't meet the organization's needs, weren't for sale, or spurred angry reactions from neighbors.

The latter came up during an exploration of a possible move to the former Columbus Cancer Clinic building on Ceramic Drive.

The new building, found by former Clintonville Area Commission Chairman John DeFourny, acting as the CRC's real-estate agent, required no major renovations, Owens said.

"It is certainly added expense, no question about that," the executive director said. "We now have a mortgage we have to pay and added utilities we didn't have to pay before."

With existing community support, though, the increased expense is affordable, he added.

A capital campaign is not in the immediate offing, Owens said, but there may be a need for one to renovate the West Lakeview structure, the neighborhood's first library, into a "21st-century food pantry."

"We aren't done by any stretch of the imagination," he said.

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