SANTA ROSA — The two-story Person Senior Wing is a compatible addition to the Finley Community Center located at 2060 W. College Ave.
Completed on Oct. 4, this project spanned a 10-year development period involving three construction phases.
The result is a dedicated inter-generational facility offering programs designed to appeal to all ages on topics ranging from health, recreation, and education to culture, nutrition and social services.
Fundraising for the 25,000-square-foot wing began in 2002.
In 2004 the nonprofit Seniors, Inc. was founded by a group of Santa Rosa seniors with the goal to raise money for the planning, design and building of a new senior center. Seniors, Inc., formed a partnership with the city of Santa Rosa and identified several donors willing to contribute toward the $8 million construction cost.
Local architect, Larry Simons, principal with Simons & Woodard, Inc., drafted initial design plans.
In December 2004 the Santa Rosa City Council approved a plan to move forward to facilitate design and construction. At the same time, Seniors, Inc. signed an agreement with Simons & Woodard to complete the facility design and manage construction.
In October 2010 Seniors, Inc., acquired $480,000 in additional funding and ground was broken signaling the start of phase 1 construction on the $2.4 million building shell and landscaping.
Seniors, Inc. received a $1.5 million grant from the Finley Foundation in July 2011 to fund phase 2, involving first floor improvements and the courtyard.
A year later, in August 2012, Seniors, Inc. received another generous grant of $2 million from the Ernest I. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation to apply toward phase 3 construction, involving first and second floor improvements and the parking lot expansion.
In September 2012 the new facility was officially declared the “Person Senior Wing” in honor of Evert Person, former publisher of The Press Democrat and longtime head of the Finley Foundation — a key benefactor during the development of the wing.
The first floor was opened two months later featuring a large entrance lobby, fireplace, seating areas, art display cabinets, Roberta’s Reading Room and Library, as well as a café with a promenade to the Blanche N. Burns Auditorium that accommodates 250 people.
The main floor is also home for the Simons Art Gallery under a 56-foot long skylight. This level has four multi-use rooms, two fitness and dance rooms, two meeting rooms, a billiard room, computer training facility, staff offices, an arts and crafts room, three consulting rooms, a catering kitchen in addition to restroom facilities.
“The new, energy-efficient building with numerous green features respects the architecture and design of the existing Community Center and park, while making its own design statement,” said Wayne Bossier with Simons & Woodard Inc.
Exterior walls are constructed of concrete panels. Steel trellis canopies provide shading at windows, and strategically located glass walls offer dramatic views of the surrounding park.
Interior finishes incorporate the extensive use of hardwood flooring, oak millwork and cabinetry, custom pendant light fixtures, interior glass and accent lighting.
Among site improvements are 77 new parking spaces, park landscaping and an outdoor patio adjacent to the auditorium. There is a central courtyard for hosting community functions featuring the Friedman Family Fountain, along with an impressive bronze sculpture of Schroeder and Lucy donated by the Schulz family.
Allen E. Nelson was the general contractor for phases 1 and 2 and Murray Building for phase 3. Seniors, Inc. contracted with the architectural and development firm Simons & Woodard for project-management services during construction, and MKM & Associates was the engineering company for this project.
In October of this year, the second floor and the remainder of the facility was completed and opened to the public, marking a final end to construction.
The second level has more multipurpose rooms used for reading, computer classes, card games and other activities.
Chief among the group of major donors for the new wing was the Ernest I. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation. This foundation gave a total grant of $3.5 million in two installments.
Over the years Evert, and his wife Norma, donated approximately $40 million to a number of Sonoma County organizations and causes, including $7 million to help fund development of Finley Park, the existing Finley Community Center and the Finley Aquatic Center.
In all, more than $4.5 million in other grant commitments have come from the city of Santa Rosa, the Schulz Community Foundation, Exchange Bank; the Larry & Gruden Simons Fund; Jim Kaumeyer; Henry Trione; Sy & Sel Burkowitz; the Friedman Family and several anonymous givers.
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