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$700,000 left to raise for Community House restoration campaign

By Staff | Apr 13, 2016

Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society President Jim Griffith provided Sanibel Community Association Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall with a donation of $2,000 to go towards The Community House’s restoration project. The society has been using the Community House for more than 40 years. PHOTO PROVIDED

A restoration campaign that kicked off last year for The Community House, an 88 year old building, is still in need of $700,000 to reach its $3 million goal.

“It’s sacred because it was brought to us by islanders,” Sanibel Community Association Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall said about The Community House.

She added that it’s incredibly important to continue to have the house available for generations to come, which is why the restoration campaign was initiated.

The Community House, the first public building on the island constructed by citizens to address the needs of the community, will close its doors on May 7 to begin a much needed renovation that has a tentative completion date of late fall this year. The renovation includes many upgrades to the existing structure, as well as new added space.

“Many of our groups utilizing the space are coming forward with donations,” Riska-Hall said. “There are a lot of clubs that have stepped forward.”

Last year, The Community House was used by 57 island clubs, nonprofits, civic associations, or homeowners, which increased this year. The Community House, open for everyone, attracts 50,000 visitors a year.

Due to the amount of foot traffic that travels through The Community House, the more than 80 year old building is in need of structural and safety upgrades.

Among the outdoor upgrades includes increased vegetation. For example, the 4,200 square foot east buffer that runs between Island Cow and The Community House, must include 56 large, or medium trees, 42 of which need to be native and two new live oak trees.

“We will move whatever we can,” Riska-Hall said of the plants.

She said they will use orchid type trees as part of the landscaping, so it can be used for new educational programming at The Community House.

The outdoor renovation also includes more parking on the south side of the property behind the auditorium, as well as a covered entrance and walkway for drop off. A new entrance will also be added on the back of The Community House, allowing individuals entry to the auditorium on the east side of the building.

The project, being done by Architect Amy Nowacki, will keep the Florida charm outdoors, as well as incorporate a Florida cottage feel indoors.

The center rooms of the building’s interior will be widened and the concrete wall between the auditorium will be torn down. Storage areas will be added, as well as a shell crafter storage that has been completely paid for by a donor.

The bathrooms will all be up-to-code with more space, a conference room will be added, the lobby square footage will be increased, providing new office space for the employees and sprinkler systems will be installed.

A state-of-the-art kitchen, with more space, is also apart of the renovation plans.

Depending if the Sanibel Community Association meets its restoration campaign goal, will determines if they can add new technology, acoustics and new furniture to the house.

Anyone who donates more than $50,000 is entered into the 1927 Club. Riska-Hall said the club is “toasting continuance of The Community House” through raising money for the restoration of the front room.

Individuals who donate $1,000 can have their name engraved on the historical floor, which will become wainscoting in the new building. The donation will support the new smoked oak wood flooring that will become apart of The Community House for another 80 years.

There are a slew of ways an individual, or business, can donate to the campaign. Donations can be made online – www.sanibelcommunityhouse.com – through transferring stock, pledging money that is good for five years, to name a few.

The Community House, operated by the Sanibel Community Association, is a nonprofit organization with a mission “to enrich community spirit through educational, cultural, and social gatherings in our historic Community House.”

For more information, call (239) 472-2155, or stop by The House at 2173 Periwinkle Way.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.