VERMILION — An abandoned property in Vermilion soon will house participants of Road to Hope’s substance abuse recovery program. The nonprofit also plans to move its administrative offices from Elyria to the 1863 Liberty Ave. property, known as Mackenzie Woods.
Lorain County Port Authority previously owned the 2.36-acre property along U.S. Route 6, but granted it to Road to Hope in March, according to Lorain County real estate records. Road to Hope offers support services in a residential setting for those recovering from substance abuse issues. The organization currently has 14 recovery housing locations in Lorain and Erie counties and houses 132 people, according to Executive Director Jeff Kamms.
The Vermilion location “will centralize our administrative offices because we have recovery houses all the way out to Sandusky, so it kind of puts us in the middle,” Kamms said.
He gave a target date of Nov. 1, 2020, for the facility to become operational, adding that construction will ideally start by November of this year.
Road to Hope is applying for capital project funding through Lorain County and the state. This money will help update the cottage-like units on the property.
“We’re going to do a complete renovation of all the buildings; the only thing we’re keeping is the structures. Everything will be new out there when it’s finished,” Kamms said.
Vermilion Mayor Jim Forthofer said he met with Kamms and architects working for Road to Hope a few weeks ago to discuss technical aspects of the project, such as utilities and property lines. He said the city intends to do everything it can to make it a reality.
The project ties in with Forthofer’s plan to revitalize the eastern side of Vermilion, where the Mackenzie Woods complex is located. Forthofer made his plans for the east side a major part of his election campaign.
The Road to Hope purchase also aligns with a Route 6 corridor study approved by Lorain County commissioners. Through the $35,000 project, the city of Vermilion is trying to find alternative uses for land.
Once complete, the nine-building complex will consist of eight two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units, capable of housing 20 adults. In the future, the facility could house families.
“As an organization we’re going to see what the county’s biggest need is,” Kamms said about the possibility of family housing.
Road to Hope operates recovery housing with children now, and Kamms said the need for this type of housing is overwhelming. He also said the Vermilion location provides plenty of space, opening up the possibility of working with outside organizations for services like day care.
Forthofer said he is looking forward to making the project a reality.
“Whatever needs to be done, we’ll get it done,” he said. “We’re just happy to be turning this project around; it’s great.”
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