Bowie looks to lease old City Hall to nonprofits -- Gazette.Net


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The building at 2614 Kenhill Drive in Bowie has had many names since it first opened in 1963 — Foxhill Elementary School, Bowie City Hall and now the Kenhill Center — but a proposal before the City Council could have the city’s nonprofit groups calling it another name: home.

The City Council is scheduled to consider a proposal at its March 18 meeting that would allow the city to offer long-term leases to nonprofit groups in the city.

About 4,000 square feet are available for lease at the center, said David Deutsch, Bowie’s city manager. Much of the building’s 39,000-square-foot of space is devoted to city offices such as the city’s Youth and Family Services offices and the studio for the city’s public access channel. Most of the city administrative functions moved to the new Bowie City Hall at 15901 Excalibur Road in 2011. The Kenhill Center served as City Hall from 1978 to 2011.

The proposal is a good way to use extra space at the old City Hall, said mayor pro tem Diane Polangin (Dist. 2).

“I think it’s a wonderful use for that space,” Polangin said. “It’s great to be able to use it for nonprofits.”

Although a formal policy has yet to be drafted, the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce moved into a roughly 900-square-foot space in the building on March 1. The group left its former base at 1525 Pointer Ridge Place, said Kelly Pierce, the GBCC executive director. The move has already been positive, as the business chamber has gotten more walk-in traffic at the former school than it got at a year at its old location, Pierce said.

“It’s a lot more user friendly,” she said. “This is more appropriate for nonprofit organizations that don’t have a lot of money.”

The proposal was created with groups such as the city’s Boys and Girls Club and the South Bowie Boys and Girls Club in mind, which have struggled to find city office space, Deutsch said.

“It would be a great, great place for the Boys and Girls Club to make our home,” said Joe Hoyt, president of the Bowie Boys and Girls Club. The club offers athletic programs to about 2,500 area children, but largely has to run the organization from members’ homes, Hoyt said.

If the City Council approves the proposal, the city could begin soliciting interest from nonprofits and perhaps rent the space as early as this spring, Deutsch said.

City staff have not determined leasing costs, Deutsch said. The chamber of commerce pays about $760 per month in rent and has a three-year lease with the city, Pierce said.

Leaders with both Boys and Girls Clubs said they couldn’t afford fees above $1,000.

“The Boys and Girls Club really doesn’t generate income. We pretty much rely on the city of Bowie to assist us,” said Lisa Howard, vice president of the South Bowie Boys and Girls Club. “I think we have a really good chance of moving into Kenhill as long as it’s something that’s not going to drain us financially.”

amccombs@gazette.net