After a highly-competitive process, the St. Michaels Community Center has selected Harper & Sons, of Easton, Md. as the general contractor for the renovation of the nonprofit’s WWII-era building at 103 Railroad Ave., with the project kicking off Mon., Nov. 21.
“We are extremely pleased with how Harper & Sons has approached this project so far, and we can’t wait to get started on construction,” said SMCC Board of Directors President Langley Shook. “They have an impressive track record with successful commercial projects in St. Michaels and throughout the Eastern Shore,” adding “we have been very impressed with their work and what we have heard from their other clients.”
Harper & Sons, Inc. was founded in 1968 by Howard G. Harper in Easton, Md. after his work as a general manager for the ES Adkins Company Lumberyard in Easton. He started the business as a way for him and his sons to meet the construction needs of the rapidly developing Eastern Shore.
Today, Harper & Sons is managed by the third generation of family members, with project experience that includes working with the Town of St. Michaels, Caroline County, Easton Utilities Commission, Choptank Community Health System, University of Maryland Medical System, Salisbury University, Compass Hospice, and more.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work on this meaningful project for St. Michaels and the entire Bay Hundred region,” says Harper & Sons Vice President Benson Harper. “We look forward to overseeing the project—as our top management does on all of our projects—to ensure a high level of responsibility and personal attention to critical details throughout the renovation process.”
The Community Center’s renovated building will be an adaptive redesign of its current structure, meaning some parts of the World War II-era building will remain. The architect for the project is McInturff Architects of Bethesda and Neavitt, Md.
Founded in 1990, SMCC purchased its current building in 2015 and has since made do with the converted lumber storage warehouse’s crudely constructed interior that lacks windows, heat or air conditioning in most of the building. Disability access also has been a major issue.
“Our building’s primary asset is its location in the commercial district, near the people we serve,” says St. Michaels Community Center Executive Director Patrick Rofe. “This long-awaited renovation will make the St. Michaels Community Center the only fully-equipped resource center for social services on the Bay Hundred peninsula,” he added.
The new building will include a modern, well-equipped commercial kitchen, where SMCC will train people for jobs in restaurants and hotels, and from which the Center can continue to serve and deliver prepared meals and tens of thousands of bags of groceries to those in need.
The new Community Center also will include a Technology Center where students can do their homework and space for after-school programs and community gatherings. Rofe says the Center is working with Chesapeake College and other partners to provide high-level instruction right in the middle of town.
Support for the renovation is both broad and deep, reflecting the urgency of the need. Charitable contributions from individuals have been the largest source of funding, with more than $1M from the State of Maryland, and other government and foundation support. Shook says most of the necessary funding already has been raised, and there is a 100% donor match for additional tax-deductible gifts to the capital campaign before year-end, 2022.
Architectural renderings of the new building and more about SMCC’s planned capital improvements, including updates and information about how to support the campaign are at www.stmichaelscc.org/future.
“The excitement is really growing,” says Rofe, adding that “We’ve packed up our programs and administrative operations to prepare for the renovations, thanks in part to a number of volunteers who assisted with the efforts.”
Christ Church, St. Michaels generously has donated office space in its Parish Hall, located at the intersection of Church Street and Willow Street. The Center’s food services and other programs will be moved throughout the renovation to 207 N. Talbot St., next door to The Wildset Hotel.
Both temporary locations are close to SMCC’s building, and there will be only minimal disruptions to client services during the building renovation. The Center anticipates operating from its two temporary locations until the end of next year when the renovation project is expected to be completed.
The renovation will not impact SMCC’s Treasure Cove Thrift Shop on Railroad Avenue, which will be open throughout the project.
The St. Michaels Community Center’s mission is to serve, empower, and connect the community, with year-round essential human services programs and activities for children, families, and adults. Tax-deductible donations to SMCC and proceeds from its Treasure Cove Thrift Shop on Railroad Ave. in St. Michaels help the nonprofit provide year-round programs, services, and community events for people in St. Michaels and the Bay Hundred’s communities.
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