Helpmate, a domestic violence agency serving Asheville and Buncombe County, NC, purchased the Sisters of Mercy Convent building in 2006. The convent, which had housed nuns since its construction in 1975, offered ample space for Helpmate to bring all of its programs under one roof for the first time.
This building increases Helpmate's number of emergency shelter bedrooms from three to seven and the number of available beds from 14 to 25. It provides 2,356 additional square feet for the combined shelter and administrative services, a 37 percent increase in total space. In addition to increased space, Helpmate can now offer increased security as well as intake, triage, and group counseling services on site. We worked with Helpmate to acheive these modifications when they first acquired the building.
Then, in 2014, we helped them again, doing a feasibility assessment to determine the impact that current zoning ordinances and building codes would have on their new plans for expansion.
A Schematic Design package was completed and included an estimated building construction cost of $2.8 million for approx. 15,000 square feet of both new construction and renovated existing space. In addition geotechnical testing was completed for this hillside site as well as an Early Assistance Meeting to review code, stormwater, fire safety and storm water management compliance with City of Asheville Development Services staff.
Upon completion of the intial expansion design, fundraising consultants working with Helpmate suggested that they wait to embark upon a major Capital Campaign.
We have recently been exploring a possible adaptive reuse of an existing, historic school building, on a large, heavily landscape and quiet site close to social services anc public transportation but that work, given the current pandemic, is now on hold given various uncertainities, though on a positive note, the need for Helpmate’s services, at this time, is great and funding has come to help it meet the current demands.