Salvation Army buys New Kensington’s Fort Crawford building for $850K
The Salvation Army of New Kensington closed on a deal Friday to buy the former Fort Crawford Elementary School for $850,000, its captain said.
The organization plans to start moving into the Third Street building in December.
“The biggest thing we’re excited about is our opportunity to be able to better serve the community,” said Capt. Phillip Davies. “We’re looking to find new and creative ways to be able to support the community.”
The organization needs to raise $300,000 for renovations, according to Davies. It plans to install a full kitchen, establish a chapel for church services, fix parts of the roof, redo the floors and install basketball hoops in the gym.
Davies said the organization plans to start holding church services in a temporary chapel in the building in December, and youth programs will be offered there by the start of February.
New Kensington-Arnold School District, the building’s former owner, closed Fort Crawford in 2014 as part of a realignment to address declining enrollment.
The school dates back to when Parnassus was a separate municipality and school district. Parnassus merged with New Kensington in 1931. The playground adjacent to the school was once a combination football and baseball facility called Herr Stadium that both former high schools used.
New Kensington-Arnold Superintendent John Pallone said the $850,000 sale price is “a significant amount for this building.”
Despite being empty for about five years, Davies said the building is in generally good condition, despite some security issues such as broken windows.
Davies said the Salvation Army will continue to use its current facility, a former Presbyterian Church at 1101 Fifth Ave. where it has been based since 1973, until it can be sold.
He said the Salvation Army is limited in the services it can provide there because of the space available and the condition of the building, which he said is more than 100 years old. It has only one handicapped-accessible entrance.
The move has been a long time coming, he said. Davies and his wife, Angelys, took over leadership of the New Kensington Salvation Army in the summer of 2018.
“We did not want to leave the New Kensington area,” he said. “It just took some time to find a suitable property.”
Social services will continue to be offered out of the Fifth Avenue building until it is sold, Davies said. All other programs and services, including church services, will move to the new building once it’s set up.
With 16 classrooms over two floors plus a cafeteria and gymnasium, the new building has more space than the Salvation Army can use itself, Davies said.
“We’re actually going to be looking for some nonprofits that want to rent out a classroom or two,” he said.
Room sponsorships may be sold to raise money for the renovations.
The building sits on nearly four acres. Davies said they’ve been talking about using it for community picnics and a sports camp.
Davies said he hopes the organization can sell the Fifth Avenue building within a year, or sooner if possible.
“We won’t be able to operate both buildings. That cost is going to be too great,” he said. “The sooner we can try to sell it, the better.”