South DeKalb Senior Center to open soon

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After lengthy delays, the South DeKalb Senior Center is nearly complete and is expected to open in October.

“We are now roughly 98 percent of the way done,” said DeKalb County project manager Aaron Worthy. “We’re very close to achieving substantial completion and turning the building over…to commence operation.”

At a cost of approximately $3 million, the center is being paid for using U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant funds.

Once completed, the center will be a 15,400-square-foot facility with amenities including community meeting rooms, computer lab, fitness area, 1,400-square-foot covered porch, kitchen and more. Additionally, the center will include classrooms to accommodate the various activities requested by the community and a dining hall.

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“They wanted a large room for gatherings, meetings and entertainment,” said Allen Mitchell, the county’s interim, human and community development director. “They wanted a room to have meals every day because this center is a center that has congregate meals. They eat here every day.”

The center is expected to daily serve 150 to 200 seniors, ages 60 and up.

“What is unique about this particular building…is you have an indoor walking track for seniors,” Worthy said. “The hallways are much wider than your standard 5-foot hallways.

These are roughly 7.5 feet, so seniors can actually use this as a walking trail.”

“[Because the facility is for] active seniors, we wanted to design…a walkway which allows indoor tracks,” Mitchell said.

“Notwithstanding weather conditions,…winter, summer, etc., you can be inside in the air-conditioning or in the heat…and that’s a good thing,” Mitchell said. “For those who care not to do that, you can sit on the porch and observe and relax and enjoy yourself.”

The center is located at 1931 Candler Road, Decatur, adjacent to the Scott Candler Library.

The Candler Road senior center is one of three senior facilities recently constructed by the county. It was the first one to get underway, but problems were encountered.

“Construction commenced on this project in 2012…under a previous contractor,” Worthy said. “That contractor defaulted on his performance bond. The bond was called in early August 2014.”

The bonding company did due diligence and hired a completion contractor in February.
When the project was restarted, it was approximately 65-70 percent complete, Worthy said.
Mitchell said that although there have been complaints about construction delays, “I think that in the end we will win over all citizens who had concerns. We’ve had some early reviews of [the center] and they’ve been extremely excited.”

Mitchell said the senior center is about “enjoying having a leisure life, being able to do the things you like to do and seeing your friends.”

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