With construction of their new campus hub fully underway, the Salvation Army invited local, state, and federal leaders and organization heads to a special event Friday so all involved in securing the new state-of-the-art facility could leave their mark on it forever.
"We're signing the beam today, and it will go onto the warehouse facility," said Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware (RDC) Executive Director Megan McGlinchey. "There's three buildings that are on the campus: a retail store, warehouse, and then the 78-bed adult rehabilitation center, which is all under construction now. That should be completed in July of next year. And then the Army will relocate from their existing facility, and we hope to be back here in the fall of next year having a ribbon-cutting."
The new Salvation Army headquarters are the opening maneuver for the Wilmington Riverfront East project, and the land for the facility was obtained in a swap with the RDC. The Army gave up their family store and donation center at 107 South Market Street in exchange for relocating to South Walnut Street and Judy Johnson Drive, neighboring the 76ers' Chase Fieldhouse.
The beam signing on October 22, 2021, was just icing on the cake on a day where the true celebration was recognizing the Salvation Army's commitment to the city, and the city's investment in providing space for an organization that does so much for the city's less fortunate.
"This is a wonderful day for Wilmington, for the Salvation Army, and for our community. These new buildings--that will be beautiful, state-of-the-art, $19 million facilities--will continue to provide the services and the support that the Salvation Army has provided for decades here on the east side of the Christina River," said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons.
The theme of a positive move for all parties involved was repeated throughout the day prior to the beam being lifted. Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, taking part in the inscription ceremony, said he was happy everyone was able to work out a winning deal.
"I'm very proud. We've been working with the Salvation Army for years--[McGlinchey] and I--and what's great about this is that the trade, if you will, of their old facility for this facility, is really so much better for the Salvation Army," he said. "It's a beautiful facility, they've got a fabulous campus here, all the quarters in the place just far exceed where they are today, and we get a development site on the riverfront that will be used for a purpose probably more consistent with our overall planning. It's just one of those opportunities where everybody walks away a winner."
The sentiment was echoed by Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who said finding a way to make the move appealing for all was "important."
"Anytime that we can improve the quality of life for families and residents of Delaware, and, at the same time, where we're providing economic development and revitalization, it is truly a win-win-win," Hall-Long said. "We are so thrilled to be able to provide improved programming for residents who are here and need the Salvation Army, but at the same time launch Phase I...It's going to really add to the quality of our community, both from a health and economic perspective for residents, and just from an overall environmental perspective."
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer quoted former New Castle County Councilman and current President of the United States Joe Biden in saying if one wants to know where a community's values are placed, look at their budget, thought he amended the message, saying instead, examine how they use their land.
"It's good to know, in future days and future months and future years, when they come here, when visitors come, when locals come, to enjoy the riverfront, they're going to see this beautiful shining light of a facility, , to our community, that says we take care of the least fortunate among us," Meyer said.
The building represents more than just a structure, according to Salvation Army Territorial Chief Secretary Colonel Philip Maxwell.
"When you look at a building like this--and we are very grateful for the partnership. I will restate that, very grateful for the partnership that involves the whole of the community--you look at the footings, and we see individuals whose lives are transformed from all forms of addiction," Maxwell said. "You look at the frame, and we see the bringing together of broken, factionalized, and fractionalized families coming together as a restored and redeemed unit. And you look at the roofline, but we see a community impacted, transformed, as everybody works together to improve the existence across all people, regardless of their life's journey, or their status."
But as momentous as Friday was, Maxwell was even more excited for next fall, the anticipated completion date for the campus.
"I'm excited that, should the courtesy come our way September next year, and you would invite us back, that we will have the opportunity of seeing the finished product," he said.