SHELBY -- The new owner of the Auburn and Dowds elementary school buildings plans to invest more than $1.5 million in renovations over the next 12 months.
Shelby City Schools sold both properties to Core Community Church last year. The district is opening a new pre-K to 8th grade facility.
Lead Pastor Ben Carver said CCC will use Dowds Elementary as its new church building. Auburn will be transformed into the home of CCC's new non-profit organization, the Shelby Dream Center.
The Dream Center will provide after-school programming and other services. Carver said he hopes it will be a space for collaboration between the church and other community organizations.
"We have ideas regarding job placement services, health services, a makerspace, mentoring and other community-based partnerships," he said. "We want to make sure our efforts are not a duplication of efforts from other organizations, but focus on healthy partnerships and complementary programming."
Carver answered a serious of questions from Richland Source about the future of the properties and his vision for the Shelby Dream Center. Below are his responses, lightly edited for clarity.
Richland Source: What has to be done before these buildings will be operational?
Ben Carver: We are planning to do major construction, renovations and updates across both properties. We plan to invest over $1.5 million over the next year.
At the Dream Center, we are planning to do a complete roof revitalization, completely repaint the exterior and interior of the building, HVAC upgrades, electrical upgrades, landscaping, window replacement, new signage, new technology, new safety features and new furniture.
At the new Core Community Church facility, we are planning to do an 8,000 square-foot addition of a new auditorium and more lobby space, demolition work, completely repaint the exterior and interior of the building, HVAC upgrades, electrical upgrades, landscaping, window replacement, new flooring, new signage, new technology, new safety features, new furniture, a parking lot update and bathroom upgrades.
There is a lot of work being done across these two properties, but we view this as an investment in our city that is happening at the same time as so many other incredible investments in our city.
Richland Source: When do you anticipate opening these buildings to the public?
Ben Carver: With two major projects, we are always facing the uncertainty of construction delays. With that said, our hope is that we would be able to make the transition into our new Core Community Church facility by the end of January 2023. We would love to have the Dream Center ready for open houses by May 2023. We understand it is an aggressive timeline, but we are working diligently to be able to serve our community better out of these facilities as quickly as possible.
Richland Source: Are there any parts of the property that will still be shared with the community/school district?
Ben Carver: We’ve always wanted to view our properties as shared with the community in any way possible. Our plan is to continue to partner with the Shelby Girls Softball League to provide our fields as the primary athletic complex for them to use.
We want that program to continue to thrive and have a facility they can call home for years to come. We’ve already begun discussions on what we could do, as a church, to provide additional parking to serve the families better during the summer months. Obviously, figuring out the financial aspect is the biggest factor in when we could tackle a project like that.
Richland Source: What services do you plan to provide at the Shelby Dream Center? Will these be available only to church members or to the community as a whole?
Ben Carver: The Dream Center will focus on two major initiatives initially.
First, we want to be a great neighbor to the surrounding neighborhoods. We have already started getting out into the surrounding neighborhoods of the facility to simply begin building relationships with people and to be a great neighbor to the surrounding neighborhoods. We want people to know we’re excited to be their neighbor and that this isn’t a fad. We’re here to stay! This is way more about relationship than it is recognition.
Second, we will be launching after school programming for the 2023-2024 school year. We want to provide a safe place for students in K-8th grade to attend until their parents or guardians get off work. It will be a rotation-based system focused on homework, tutoring, activity-based fun, educational centers, technology opportunities and provided snacks or meals. We’ve had extensive conversations with Shelby City Schools on how to provide a service that benefits our students, families and school system.
Beyond those first initiatives, we’re still in the “learning phase.” We want to serve our community in their present needs and we understand that the needs of our community are constantly changing. Thus, we want to be great listeners and learners from the people and organizations in our community at how we can serve others best. We have ideas regarding job placement services, health services, a makerspace, mentoring and other community-based partnerships.
We want to make sure our efforts are not a duplication of efforts from other organizations, but focus on healthy partnerships and complementary programming. Our desire is that all of our programming focuses on an end-goal of a “hand up, not just a hand out.” We want to provide services that always move people to getting back on their feet and becoming self-sustaining.
In spinning this off into a separate non-profit organization operating out of its own facility, our hope is that our community would truly see the Shelby Dream Center as an organization purely focused on serving the community. It is not a Core Community Church thing. It is a city thing. It’s really a vision that is too big for any one organization to accomplish on its own.
Our hope is that collaboration becomes a driving force to the future successes of this organization in really serving the needs of the people of our city and our world. We believe we are better together and because of that, we want to approach this endeavor with open hands. Core Community Church doesn’t want or need the recognition. We want partnering organizations to get the recognition. We want your church or your business to get the recognition. We just want to help people. We just want to help kids. It’s a vision that’s bigger than recognition. It’s a vision that’s bigger than our individual differences.
Richland Source: Will you continue using your existing church building once Dowds is ready? Or do you plan to sell the current building?
Ben Carver: We plan to sell our current property. We hope that it can be used to serve and grow another organization in the same way it has served us well over the course of the last 10 years. It really has been an incredible location that has helped us do some really big things, make an eternal impact for the Kingdom and create some lasting memories. As with anything, this property served us well for a season, but now it is time for a bigger property that can serve our needs and help us make an impact in the next season.
Richland Source: Anything else you'd like the community to know?
Ben Carver: More than anything we want our community to know beyond a shadow of doubt that we are for our city. We want to take big risks to love our city well and serve people well. We’re willing to risk it all to be a place that provides hope in the midst of life’s difficulties. We don’t have all the answers and we certainly don’t have it all together. We want our facilities to be places where you can walk in and know “it’s okay to not be okay.”