Five years in the planning, St. Francis Neighborhood Center starts construction

With nearly $5 million pledged or in the bank and lots of politicians and funders lined up to wish them well,  leaders of St. Francis Neighborhood Center held a virtual groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction of a new facility at the site of their present headquarters at 2405 Linden Ave.

Executives from Whiting Turner, the general contractors, and board and staff leadership wearing SFNC hard hats walked around the fenced-off property on Dec. 1.  Board President Kevin Apperson called it “a really exciting day” after five years of planning and fundraising.  The event was dedicated to “Father Tom,” the Rev. Thomas Composto, the Jesuit founder and longtime leader of the Center who died in 2011.

Then Mayor-elect Brandon Scott, now-Council President Nick Mosby and State Sen. Antonio Hayes each spoke. The ceremony was bookended by prayers from Father Marty Demek of Corpus Christi Church and Rabbi Daniel Berg  of Beth Am Synagogue.

St. Francis Neighborhood Center is the oldest neighborhood center in the city, serving young people and their families in Reservoir Hill and Penn North just north and west of Bolton Hill.  Phase I of the construction, budgeted at $5.4 million, calls for a significant expansion and renovation of the current headquarters, an old mansion that once was home to Joseph A. Bank, the men’s clothing magnate.