Senior Center buys land from Antioch College, new building planned
- Published: December 15, 2023
On Monday, Dec. 11, the YS Senior Center completed a purchase that’s been two decades in the making.
That afternoon, Senior Center Executive Director Caroline Mullin and Board of Trustees President Wayne Gulden signed the last of the paperwork to purchase a half-acre parcel of land from Antioch College, where the center aims to build and open a new facility.
The newly purchased land — which, along with several other Antioch College-owned lots and buildings, was put up for sale in August — is located at the intersection of Livermore and East North College streets. The Senior Center purchased the land for $300,000.
A press release received last week by the News stated that although the current facility’s location at 227 Xenia Ave. is “convenient to village amenities and the pulse of the village,” the move to a new site is predicated on issues related to lack of downtown parking and inadequate space and accessibility measures.
“There are steps [seniors must often climb] internally” which can be a barrier to those with physical challenges, Senior Center Marketing Manager Pam Geisel said following the sale closing Monday.
“We think about that every day — it’s an awkward building to be in for seniors,” Gulden added.
Though, as Mullin told the News this week, planning for the new facility is still in its earliest stage, building a larger facility to host the Senior Center’s many programs and services has long been a goal for past directors and boards.
“We outgrew this building 20 years ago,” Mullin said. “We anticipate having a 10,000-square-foot building, and that will double our [current] space.”
To that end, raising funds and finding a suitable new site has itself been a 20-year work in progress, Mullin wrote in a follow-up email.
“The funds [for the land purchase] were in the [Senior Center’s] Yellow Springs Community Foundation endowment account, which was started 20 years ago with the intention of finding a new location for the center,” she wrote. “It was a long search! Generous donors over these two decades have helped the account grow.”
Mullin also noted that the new facility will be closer to the college’s Wellness Center — an amenity many local seniors use — and Friends Care Community. YS Home, Inc.’s upcoming senior apartment development The Cascades, the first phase of which is slated to break ground next year, will also be nearby.
This will not be the first time the Senior Center has moved to a new location in its 63-year history. The center was founded in 1960 by the Rev. Wesley S. Matthews, its first director, and was first located where Emporium Wines and Underdog Cafe currently operates. The Senior Center moved to its current location in 1978 after purchasing the building for $1.
The completion of the recent sale was held in the Senior Center’s Fireplace Room, which perhaps highlighted the center’s need to stretch its legs: The Fireplace Room serves multiple functions as both a meeting space and an art gallery. The room’s table was full of Senior Center staff and board members, with several more standing outside the doorway to be present for the sale’s closing.
On hand to represent the Senior Center in the sale were Coldwell Banker Commercial | Heritage realtors Patrick Williams and Sam Eckenrode; realtor Sheila Dunphy-Pallotta, of Dunphy Real Estate, represented Antioch College. Presiding over the sale closing was Lisa Terry, co-owner of Home Services Title Company, an affiliate of Coldwell Banker Heritage.
“So many seniors have a vested interest in this, so it really was an honor to represent [the Senior Center] in the sale,” Eckenrode told the News by phone this week.
After all the paperwork was signed, Eckenrode handed out celebratory bottles of Pellegrino sparkling water to Mullin and Antioch College President Jane Fernandes.
“When I heard that the Senior Center wanted to buy the land, I thought it was about the best thing I ever knew that could be done with the land,” Fernandes said, clinking her Pellegrino bottle with Mullin’s in a toast. “So I’m really very excited that now they own it, and I know that I can’t wait for the new Senior Center to be there.”
Fernandes also noted that the college accepted the Senior Center’s offer to purchase the land a mere month ago, noting that the sale process was quick because “it was a good time and the right people with the right intentions.”
“And that’s what we’re happy about,” she said.
Mullin said the Senior Center looks forward to deepening its relationship with Antioch College, noting that the center has had a “long partnership” with the institution.
“Many people in this room are Antioch alumni, and at least 20% of our members are affiliated with the college in some way,” she said. “We also employ some students here as Miller Fellows, so we often have Antioch students on our staff.”
Looking ahead, though the sale process happened quickly, it will likely be several years before the new facility breaks ground. The Senior Center plans to launch a capital campaign next year. Via email, Mullin said the center’s estimated timeline to raise funds, build the new facility and move in will be three to five years.
“Hopefully [we’ll be] breaking ground within three years,” she said.
Mullin added that the Senior Center expects to need $2.5 million to complete the new facility, though she said the center’s board and staff understand that estimate might increase based on rising construction costs.
“There isn’t a concept drawing of the building yet,” she added. “We intend to invite the community to help us develop the design.”
One design element, however, is likely a given; when asked whether the new Senior Center facility will have a Great Room, as the current facility does, Mullin responded in the affirmative. In fact, she said: “There will be a Super Great Room.”