After 47 years in the basement of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the Bay Ridge Center for older adults is breaking (above) new ground.
A new 21,000-square-foot facility at 15 Bay Ridge Ave. is earmarked to open this fall when interior works are completed, tripling the BRC’s space and capacity to offer services to a growing senior population that has outgrown the 4,700-square-foot basement facility.
The two-story building will feature a start-of-the-art gym, technology learning lab, and a spacious dining room area, along with classrooms for arts, education, and music programs.
“NYC Aging has identified southwest Brooklyn as a community expecting a significant increase in demand for senior services over the next seven to eight years,” Todd W. Fliedner, Executive Director of BRC, told Brooklyn Paper. “So, it’s good timing, the community needs a space that can really service all of the older adults in the community. Expanding the capacity of Bay Ridge Center will strengthen our ability to seamlessly provide services across the full aging spectrum, substantially increase the number of individuals who are helped, and offer programs relevant to specific underserved groups in our community.”
At a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Congress Member Nicole Malliotakis announced an additional $2 million in federal funding for BRC’s fundraising goal of $5 million to complete interior works.
Malliotakis said the funding will go toward improvements to BRC’s senior center’s drop-off area and entrance, install accessible bathrooms and a food-prep kitchen among other upgrades to the building’s electrical and fire safety systems.
“I am confident that this massive expansion and upgrades will allow BRC to serve so many more seniors in our community with the services they deserve and provide a comfortable place to gather and thrive for years to come,” Malliotakis said at Wednesday’s ceremony.
The Bay Ridge Center recovers from a ‘rough few years’
The expansion of services comes after a “rough few years” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the BRC shuttered for over a year and operating a skeleton service for Bay Ridges’ 26,400 older residents up until recently.
Fliender said both the pandemic and its impact on the BRC had “significant detrimental effects” on service users due to isolation and a lack of activity.
“The center gives a lot of users structure, and COVID took that structure away, and in a lot of ways that was just really awful,” Fliender said. “We’re just glad that on the heels of COVID, we’re going to be in this beautiful, spacious state of the art new space where they can come spend the entire day.”
Before the new center opens this fall, the BRC will continue to operate out of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church facility.