Salvation Army breaks ground on two buildings after smashing fundraising records

Turning real estate into real community benefits is the backbone of two projects that broke ground June 29, sponsored by the Salvation Army Austin Area Command.

One is the Rathgeber Center for Women and Children: A Salvation Army Shelter on Tannenhill Road near East Martin Luther King Boulevard and U.S. Highway 183. The other project is the Austin Citadel Corps Community Center and Area Command facility at 4700 Manor Road on the eastern edge of the Mueller master-planned community.

Costs will be covered by the Salvation Army’s first local capital campaign in 27 years, which was a stellar success.

“We raised a record-breaking $19.2 million,” said Jan Gunter, deputy development director for the local nonprofit. “We really applaud the Austin business community, individuals and foundations who stepped up and donated to this capital campaign.”

After quietly securing pledges for $10 million in 2015, the Salvation Army had hoped to garner $17 million by now. The organization far surpassed that goal. In addition to the shelter and community center, capital campaign funds are being used to renovate the Salvation Army’s 242-bed homeless shelter in downtown Austin, which should be finished in October. The Salvation Army will also build a 50-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in South Austin. The timeline on that has yet to be determined.

An endowment has been created, as well, to support the long term maintenance and operations of the facilities, Gunter said. Contributors of $500 or more to the endowment will receive be named in the Pathway of Hope at the new shelter.

The 52,800-square-foot shelter will be delivered in two phases. The first phase, projected to open in May 2018, will include 40 bedrooms. The second phase, which should wrap up in October 2018, will add 23 bedrooms. When completed, the facility will support a capacity of 213 people.

The project can’t open soon enough for Gunter.

“We have a waiting list of 500 on any given day,” she said.

The community center and command headquarters will serve several functions — community outreach, a base for administrative functions, a chapel for worship services, a gymnasium for various programs, including exercise, and meeting rooms.

Character building and spiritual development programs will be supported and enhanced in a tangible way.

The 17,000-square-foot building is expected to be finished in May 2018.

O’Connell Robertson is the architect for both the shelter and community center. E2 Construction Inc. is the general contractor for the shelter, and The Burt Group is handling construction for the community center.

The Burt Group is a leading Austin-based commercial general contracting firm.