First step in Silver Key move to east side - large new kitchen at Murray location
In September, the nonprofit that assists the elderly opened a large new cooking facility at its future campus on the east side in the 1600 block of South Murray Boulevard.
The 4,000-square-foot kitchen takes over food preparation chores for the Golden Circle and Meals on Wheels programs, both of which are coordinated by Silver Key. Formerly, different locations and agencies shared that load.
One of the previous cooking sites had been inside Silver Key's long-time complex at 2250 Bott Ave. - a kitchen less than half as big as the new one. It has since been dismantled, with some of its parts “repurposed” with the new equipment at the Murray site, according to Lorri Orwig, Silver Key's chief development officer.
In its first full year, the new kitchen is expected to make 210,000 meals, she said. But it was designed with enough capacity for 500,000 a year.
“We built it knowing there would continue to be significant growth in the area's senior community,” she said.
To that point, she quoted a study that 1 out of 10 people in El Paso County were age 65 in the year 2010, but by the end of 2020, it will be 1 of 7.
This “explosive growth” of seniors includes many whose tight budgets can lead to nutrition shortfalls, Orwig elaborated.
The Golden Circle Nutrition Program makes lunches available for people who sign up in advance
There were 110,000 Golden Circle meals served in 2014; this year, it's likely to be 140,000, Orwig said. And Meals on Wheels is predicted to go from 61,000 to 70,000.
It's numbers like these that led the new kitchen to became “priority one” for Silver Key in transitioning to the Murray location, Orwig said.
In the meantime, plans have been finalized for how the rest of the agency's services and staffers will eventually be placed at the single-story site, which is 68,000 square feet in all.
An exact date for that move has not been determined, but Orwig thinks it will happen in 2016. “I just need to raise another $3 million” to cover the rest of the costs related to relocating and remodeling, she estimated, but expressed confidence that it can be done. A feasibility study going in had determined that $4.5 to $6 million could be raised through fundraising, Orwig has previously noted. For donation purposes, Silver Key has been approved for an enterprise zone tax credit, which benefits donors.
The agency also receives some government subsidies for its services.
The cost of the property was just under $2 million.
The overall space at Murray doesn't need an excessive amount of remodeling. It was formerly the home of a defense contractor, which
Added work will be required to set up the retail location (currently “Silver & Such” at Bott Avenue), the emergency pantry, a storage warehouse and a 75-seat dining area outside the new kitchen for seniors who may want to drop by for a meal.
Offering a dining area will be new for Silver Key. The Bott location did not have room for such a feature. This is part of a larger "activity center," which is described in the dashed items below.
Other favorable outcomes at the Murray campus are:
- Parking - At Bott, the parking lot is sometimes full, but at Murray “there's a ton of parking,” Orwig said, consisting of a lot at the south end and spaces around the entire facility.
- Tenants - At first, Silver Key will only be using about half of the space - about the same for its staff that it uses at Bott. The rest of the space has been leased out, providing a helpful cash flow to the agency.
- Transportation - Six acres will be dedicated to facilities related to the storage and maintenance of the fleet of 30 vans and buses. This also leaves room for expansion. The current space is 1.7 acres, which is insufficient for current as well as future needs, according to a Silver Key document about the new site.
- Activity center - This 3,000-square-foot space can be used "to gather and enjoy interaction," as well as to get learning opportunities, the Silver Key new-site document states.
Built in the early 1980s, the Murray campus will be the agency's third location since the agency was started in the downtown area in 1971 as a private effort to help needy people 60 and over. Silver Key has been headquartered on the Westside, at 2250 Bott Ave., since 1978.
The entity owns the Bott site, built in the early 1970s, but major upgrades are needed to its heating, plumbing and electrical systems. In addition, Silver Key's board of directors saw a need for a more centralized community location that has room for expansion, as Orwig has previously outlined.
In addition to the meals programs, Silver Key administers senior programs for transportation, two federal food assistance programs, a pantry program and an emergency pantry and provides case management/guardianship in individual cases.
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