Benzie County nonprofit hopes to serve new building clients by fall

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BENZONIA — After opening a new headquarters in October, leaders of Christian neighbors in the Benzie area hope to have it up and running by the fall.

Gerri VanAntwerp, executive director of BACN, said everything was “right on time”.

“We had minor product delays,” she said. “Windows is one thing, but most of the time we get everything on time. The Spence Brothers (Traverse City-based contractor constructing the building) have been great and our in-house board and community members working as project managers have also done a great job.


VanAntwerp said there have not been large price increases for the project like those that plague other construction projects such as the new Homestead Hill Elementary School.

“When we went through the tender process, we locked in the prices as soon as the council decided to go ahead with the project (in 2019),” she said. “There were some increases, and we had to make changes early in the build, knowing that some materials were no longer readily available.”

The new structure will be a warehouse style building with two sections. The right side of the building will be used for offices, classrooms and mechanical rooms. The left side will be a “retail” space for the pantry, clothing center and other customer services.

There will also be a new area for dropping off deliveries.

Construction of the new building is funded primarily by private donations made through a “silent” campaign, which raised $3.1 million, as well as money raised by the BACN Builds fundraising campaign. The building was originally estimated at around $3.5 million.

VanAntwerp said once the new building is constructed and services are transferred, the old building will be demolished to make way for parking.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “I get stopped by a lot of people asking how the project is going. Our customers have been very patient with us.

VanAntwerp said the new building was necessary because there was no room to expand in the old building and the new facilities would lend themselves to many new possibilities.

To this end, the organization is running a survey to find out what kinds of programs their customers are currently using and what kinds of needs they have that could be met.

“We want to be intentional without our services,” VanAntwerp said. “Do our customers have a need that we are not currently meeting? Do we have services they don’t need? Do our services complement others already available in the community? It’s easy for us to come up with ideas, but we don’t want to come up with something that doesn’t meet customer needs or fit their schedules.

The survey is available at forms.gle/dio8JTzAms2jarzFA.

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