Call for design ideas underway for new West Ashley Senior Center

VIDEO: Call for design ideas underway for new West Ashley Senior Center
Published: May. 19, 2015 at 7:15 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2015 at 12:05 AM EDT
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WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - The people who will benefit most from a new West Ashley senior center are being asked for ideas to help design it.

"We want their input and we want the center to be reflective of the community and what interests and needs they have," Elizabeth Bernat, Executive Director of Lowcountry Senior Center, said.

The center will be built on the Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital campus near I-526.

The City of Charleston and Liollio Architecture asked for ideas at a public forum Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm very happy to see that we're taking some positive steps," Louise Gartenberg, who lives in West Ashley, said.

At the forum, the public had the chance to share their ideas for the nearly 16,000 square foot center. The suggestions, which have not yet been approved, included a fitness center and a café.

"The senior center is a focal point for older adults," Bernat said.

The facility is being built by the City of Charleston and will be run by staff at Bon Secours St. Francis.

"It's something that we've needed in this area for a very long time," Marvin Wagner, Charleston City Councilmember for District five, said.

While construction is expected to start around this time next year, they want you help now with the design.

"Before we can even begin designing a center we need to have more input on what they would like it to look like," Bernat said. "Not only the building and the programs, but what kind of atmosphere do they want? What kind of energy do they want in the building?"

"It's the convenience of it coming here because traffic in Charleston is increasing greatly because everybody wants to come here," Norma Able, who lives in West Ashley said. "Now we've got another attraction to bring more."

West Ashley has roughly 70,000 seniors. That number expected to grow significantly not only in West Ashley but elsewhere.

"The number of adults who are 65 and older is expected to double in the next 10 years," Bernat said.

There's already one accredited Senior Center, which is located on James Island.

The concept and design of that center serves as a model for the new one to go in West Ashley.

The concept of wellness is the vision behind the center.

"I got to the fitness center over in West Ashley, so I'd like to see that transferred over here so I can walk to it," Ron Byrd, who lives in West Ashley, said.

"I'm on a diet so I want to see nutrition programs, and good meal planning," Joanna Boscia, who lives in West Ashley, added.

Another forum is scheduled for Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the mall classroom at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital.

The project is expected to cost around $8 million dollars. It is covered in the budget.

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