Boys & Girls Clubs look to expand Desich Family Campus in Lorain

Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio is planning a major expansion of its Desich Family Campus in Lorain that calls for construction of a 15,000-square-foot community wellness center.

The multi-use center, which would be attached to the existing Club building at 4111 Pearl Avenue, will include space for classrooms, meeting rooms, multi-purpose rooms and a gymnasium. The center would be built in part of the parking lot of the former shopping center.

The center would be used by the Club and be made available to outside community groups.

BGCNEO is now seeking design and build cost estimates for the project, including landscape design and phased-in installation. The deadline for companies to submit proposals is 2 p.m. June 2.

“We feel this project will be an asset not just to our Club members but to the entire community,” BGCNEO CEO Allen Smith said. “Teens, in particular, will have a place of their own.”

Mike Conibear, founder of the former Boys & Girls Clubs of Lorain County and current BGCNEO Director of Government Relations, said, “Now, more than ever, local teens need a safe and positive place to gather where they can access an array of programming and services. Teens and their families also need affordable sports and recreational facilities in the area. The community wellness center that we are planning to build, which will abut the current South Lorain site, will be this place.”

The Desich Family Campus sits on an 8.6-acre site, with the Boys & Girls Club operating in the former shopping center’s anchor tenant building. The building houses afterschool Club activities and a commercial kitchen; the property also includes an expansive parking lot and an outdoor garden.

BGCNEO is now seeking philanthropic dollars to cover the gap between state funding and the anticipated cost. The state funding for the community center was awarded in partnership with Lorain County Community College and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. A cost estimate and timetable will not be released until the proposals are evaluated.

The design and build proposal must also contain a plan for engaging with stakeholders, including the city of Lorain, which has a 5-acre park adjacent to the property; neighbors adjacent to the site; BGCNEO Club members, particularly teens; BGCNEO employees and board members; and potential funders.

Boys & Girls Clubs provide safe, fun places for kids ages 6-18 to go after school and in the summer with a focus on academic success, healthy lifestyles and character development. BGCNEO was formed by the 2019 merger of Clubs in Cleveland, Lorain County, Akron and Sandusky.