Heartbeats of Licking County quadrupled its size when it moved from downtown Newark to East Main Street.

Heartbeats of Licking County quadrupled its size when it moved from downtown Newark to East Main Street.

Organization officials say the facility has the potential to expand again with a proposed renovation.

"There's a lot more we could be doing, but we just don't have the room," said Linda Brucker, Heartbeats development director.

Executive director Rindy Brooks said the organization kicked off a capital campaign last week to raise $400,000 and add 4,144 square feet of space to the building. The existing space is 3,200 square feet.

"Our client numbers are limited by the space we have," she said.

Information from Heartbeats' annual report shows the organization served 1,080 women and 54 men ages 19 to 30 in fiscal year 2007-08.

The building addition would go on the east side of the existing building at 336 E. Main. It would be a two-story building with a skylight in the center that would light the entire addition.

Brooks said it would provide better space for administration, bigger classrooms, a space for the boutique and more space for special events, such as a parents night.

Brooks said she could remember when the existing building had some corners that were not filled. Every corner now is being used and offices that were built for one but now house two.

Several items are stored off site because of space constraints, Brooks said.

"We'd like to bring everything under one roof," she said.

Heartbeats of Licking County was formed in 1969 as a "nonprofit Christian ministry that offers emotional, physical and spiritual support to those who find themselves in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy," according to the organization's Web site. It is part of the national Heartbeats organization and is of one the oldest Heartbeats centers in the United States.

The organization, now in its 40th year, is celebrating all of the services it offers by trying to offer more to more people.

"In the new wing we'd like to add a place, with a mini-café atmosphere, where people can come and meet each other and build friendships," Brooks said. "We could host couples classes and dinners. Right now we don't have that kind of space."

The Covenant Group is handling the design and construction. Brooks said the architect/builder has worked with several local nonprofit groups to build facilities, working with donated materials and donated labor when available.

Before ground could be broken, Heartbeats would have to go through Newark's zoning process. The first step in that process was to request several variances for the rear and frontyard setbacks, on the amount of parking and green space on site.

The Newark board of zoning appeals met July 23 and unanimously agreed to allow all variances requested.

Jim Brucker, a Heartbeats board member, spoke to the board of zoning appeals, which had no questions for him.

The variances allow the building to be built on the alley, like the existing building, and allow less parking and green space than typically is required. The plans show eight parking spaces instead of the required 24, for example.

Brucker said Heartbeats is working with a nearby church, which owns a lot to the north, to see if it could use some of that space for parking.

Brucker said the organization is excited to be expanding on Newark's east side, where most of the organization's clientele live.

"Most of our clients are from the east end and are able to just walk in," he said.

The organization's next step will be to go before the city's planning commission for a review of the proposed addition.

lwince@thisweeknews.com