Neighborhood Services Organization, a social anchor for the Riverside neighborhood for 96 years, will build a $1.9 million home while retaining its decades-old address.
Stacey Ninness, the agency’s director, said site work began this month with construction to begin within the next few weeks.
“It’s where we started in 1920 — we’ve been a fabric of the neighborhood,” Ninness said. “We never considered any other location.”
When the agency hired architect Kenyon Morgan, he initially was commissioned to see if the former Methodist church building at 431 SW 11, built in 1916, could be renovated and expanded.
“There were seven different floor levels,” Morgan said. “Bringing it to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards would have required 40 percent of the building space. Trying to get an elevator to each floor and making it accessible was more costly than building a new structure.”
The building, which Morgan said had been stripped of historical features decades ago, was torn down earlier this year.
The new 9,800-square-foot building is designed to fit in with surrounding historic buildings that include the old Riverside School, which is now home to the Latino Development Agency, and the Little Flower Catholic Church, Morgan said.
Morgan also acknowledged the area is set to change with continued redevelopment of the Oklahoma River and westward expansion of downtown.
“It will be very visible as you come over the Walker bridge (spanning the river),” Morgan said.
With the agency’s original building razed, Neighborhood Services Organization is located temporarily in a former dental clinic at 8101 S Walker Ave.
Ninness estimates the new building will open within a year, allowing the agency to expand its services to low income families, clients at First Step, City Rescue Mission and other area churches and organizations.
She said the new building will allow the agency to expand from three to five dental surgery rooms.
“Our dental clinic does about 7,000 procedures a year — we see about 2,000 patients,” Ninness said.
The new Neighborhood Services Organization headquarters is funded through a $3 million capital campaign that also will pay for furnishings and provide a maintenance endowment.