Goodwill plotting a $10 million reuse strategy: Not-for-profit renovates HQ for expanded charter school

Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana supports its job and educational programs by reselling used clothes, household items and even cars.

But the virtues of reuse and recycle aren’t confined to the not-for-profit’s 34 local thrift stores.

Goodwill has adapted its headquarters several times since it was built in 1960, to fill a variety of needs. Some of the same space within the 195,000-square-foot building has served as a retail store, an office full of cubicles, an industrial packing facility and as high school classrooms.

Now, Goodwill has launched a threephase project to overhaul much of the West Michigan Street building again, this time to double the size of its Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a charter public school program open to any student who lives in Indiana.

The project, which will cost $8 million to $10 million, will transform an industrial manufacturing and packing area into new classrooms; create a large, new courtyard garden; and add a gym and theater building.

The first phase of the project will cost $2 million and is fully funded, said Cindy L. Graham, Goodwill’s vice president of marketing. The last two phases will cost $3 million to $4 million each and are not yet funded.

The headquarters building, which sits just west of the White River, is now home to about 230 students. The renovation work will provide space for a total of more than 500 students by 2009, said Scott Bess, the school’s chief operating officer.

“You have to remake the building on the fly, while still running everything,” he said.

The facility will feature four separate school “communities,” each capable of serving 130 students. Each school has eight classrooms, two for each grade level. Students have the same teacher all four years.

Goodwill began the project after moving its commercial services operation to a 105,000-square-foot building at 413 N. Tremont St. earlier this month. That building houses assembly, packing and inventory-management operations, and employs people with disabilities and others who have trouble finding work. The move freed up space for the school expansion.

It has always been a juggling act to provide space for all of Goodwill’s programs within its three-acre Michigan Street compound, Bess said. But the results are part of what creates a unique environment at Goodwill: For instance, office employees, adults in job programs, people with disabilities and high school students all share the same cafeteria.

Ultimately, building a new school from the ground up would have been much more expensive, Bess said.

In designing the new classroom space, locally based architecture firm Axis worked to reflect the school’s free-spirited style of education and individual attention, said interior designer Nikki Sutton. Axis has worked with Goodwill for seven years.

“They’re always trying to improve, take on new things,” Sutton said. “That’s why they’re a good group to work with.”

The new classroom space will feature high ceilings, exposed ductwork and bright-colored paint-resembling downtown loft apartments. Skylights will provide abundant natural light, and several windows will give each classroom a sense of openness.

Teachers will be able to customize their classroom space with conferencestyle tables and couches. The school space will occupy a total of 70,000 square feet.

Goodwill posted profit of $2.1 million in 2005, including a $993,000 boost from its foundation. Its educational initiatives lost $29,000, while Goodwill Industries (which includes its stores and commercial services) earned $1.1 million. Total revenue for the year was $52.5 million.

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