Westerville News & Public Opinion

WARM buys building, plans move in May

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Westerville Area Resource Ministry is moving its local food pantry and social services offices from 175 E. Broadway Ave. to this much larger building at 150 Heatherdown Drive.

After more than 40 years of service to the city, the Westerville Area Resource Ministry is moving to a larger $1.2 million facility at 150 Heatherdown Drive.

The move, said Executive Director Scott Marier, comes in response to the growing need for what the ministry offers, adding that WARM had been looking at potential sites for more than two years.

"As the needs have continued to grow in Westerville, obviously WARM has responded to those needs over the years," Marier said. "Part of that, then, is that we've reached capacity in our current facility, which has served us well for a number of years."

Marier said that as the landscape of poverty changes, so does WARM's responsibility, and the board felt that to make its efforts more sustainable, the organization would have to match the rise in need.

"What's happened in recent years is that poverty has become very mobile -- as mobile as the rest of the society -- and it's migrating outward from urban areas," Marier said. "Poverty is no longer restricted to traditional inner-city neighborhoods. It's prevalent in places like Westerville and Worthington and Dublin and New Albany."

The 40,000-square-foot building on Heatherdown previously was a Nabisco distribution center in the 1980s and has hosted a number of other businesses since. Marier said $1.2 million was a "tremendously competitive price" for the property, which was originally listed for sale at $1.7 million.

The current WARM headquarters at 175 E. Broadway Ave. is listed at 6,352 square feet on the Franklin County Auditor's Office website.

More important than the deal they got on the space was the ability for WARM to grow within its new walls, he said.

"Our board felt that it was appropriate in order to ensure the sustainability of service to the community and to address those needs, that we would have to identify a facility that we could grow with as the need continues to escalate," Marier said. "The need for us to progress with another facility was really based on the capacity need that we've reached here, as well as the growing need of demand in the city. We're taking steps to ensure that we're viable to serve the community for the coming 40 years."

Marier said that existing office space, a warehouse and loading dock for the food pantry and expandability were all features that made the space too good to pass up. He said that the facility is already in "move-in condition."

WARM is working to get its occupancy permit and hopes to begin moving into the new home by May. In the meantime, Marier said he is excited about the purchase, and believes it will help the organization better serve those in need.

"The intent of all of our work is really to improve the well-being of all of the community," he said. "As you grow, it requires some new tools and some additional resources. In this case, the new facility allows us to address the growing need and demand."