For the last 18 years the JC Penney Building has sat forlornly on the corner of E. Broadway and Walnut. Many a resident has asked a staff member of SUFS about the building, which was tied up with a private owner who chose to use it as a warehouse for printing equipment.
In the spring of 2016, with the passing of the owner his widow eagerly sold the building to SUFS.
In the time that I have been with SUFS, one of the most expressed concerns of residents has been the future of Salem City’s young adults, particularly those that have dropped out of the school system. At SUFS we felt that the old Penney’s building would make a great youth education center for the future of our children.
We hope to have the building renovated by the end of 2018 as a youth “maker space” where young adults can complete their High School education and go on to college or learn a trade that will help them become part of the workforce in construction and historic building preservation. Unfortunately the building has been sorely neglected over the last two decades and will need a great deal of repair.
SUFS has received a grant from New Jersey Community Capital, to hire an architect and engineering firm to design a plan for the interior renovations complete with cost estimates.
Then the real work will begin as we reach out to local foundations and government entities to fund the repairs.
It is no doubt a large task to take on, but we are hopeful that with the support of the community we can make it happen for the benefit of the next generation.