Salvation Army buys former location of West Valley Art Museum - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Salvation Army buys former location of West Valley Art Museum

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 9:30 am

The former West Valley Art Museum in Surprise will be the future home of the Sun Cities Salvation Army.

Salvation Army officials bought the building at 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts and the property to the east and west in August for $600,000.

Jeannette Aird, corps assistant for the Salvation Army, said the organization is excited about the move, which has been in negotiations for almost two years.

"This is really going to be a perfect fit for us because we're already in cramped corridors and need to spread out," Aird said. "It's awesome because we'll be able to utilize the space to its full potential."

Kathy Kirschbaum, volunteer coordinator for the Salvation Army, said she's excited to move into the 17,000-square-foot building.

Kirschbaum said there isn't enough room in the current location at 10730 West Union Hills Drive, Sun City. And the Salvation Army needs more space for employees and the services offered to eight West Valley communities.

"We've had no space to store things or even to do projects," said Kirschbaum. "I've literally had to hunt for space for all of my volunteers so they could work."

For 30 years, the Salvation Army has been in Sun City. But Kirschbaum said residents shouldn't be disappointed about the move to Surprise.

Many volunteers for the organization are from the Sun Cities.

"They're going to still feel ownership, even though we're going to be a mile away now," said Kirschbaum. "But now we're going to be very visible and our presence will be really noticed."

Aird said the building will help with all of the additional programs added by the organization. Contractors have been hired and are expected to begin renovations soon.

The facilities will open by February or March, Aird said. The space is transforming into offices for staff, rooms for programs, a larger kitchen space and a church service area.

"We've been looking into the West Valley Art Museum for a long time," Aird said.

In 2009, the West Valley Art Museum closed its doors for financial reasons and eventually relocated its collections to the Peoria City Hall Art Gallery.

AOTA Investments LLC purchased the real estate assets of the building from the West Valley Art Museum and worked to find a potential buyer.

Kirk Shroyer, an AOTA managing member, said the Salvation Army completed its transaction for the building with the company in June. In return, the West Valley Art Museum will receive a small percentage of the sale for AOTA.

"This is a win-win for everyone involved, and we get to contribute to the ongoing continuation of both of these fine organizations," Shroyer said.

George Palovich, former curator of the museum, said the Salvation Army is the perfect organization to occupy the facility.

"I think it's an appropriate place for them and couldn't think of anyone better because they can do more good work in the community," Palovich said.

Connie McMillin, secretary and treasurer for the museum's board of trustees, agreed.

"It's one of the nicest social service nonprofits in the country that I know will use the space to its full potential," she said.

In addition, McMillin said she's grateful for the small percentage from the sale.

"We've been debt free and in the black for awhile, but this will help us continue what we're already doing in Peoria," McMillin said.

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