Activity center

Van Buren County Seniors Activity Center set to open in early 2022 | Local News


A building that once housed a large South Haven grocery store will soon open as Van Buren County’s largest activity center for seniors.

Senior Services of Van Buren County plans to open its new multi-million dollar facility in early 2022, according to Diane Rigozzi, executive director of the agency that serves seniors in much of the county.

Rigozzi and members of the Re-Imagine fundraising committee gave members of the media a tour of the 47,000 square foot facility on Tuesday.

Located along the M-140 motorway just south of Aylworth Avenue, the building once housed the Village Market and Moore Pharmacy. The pharmacy, located in the south corner of the building, still exists, but the rest of the interior part of the building bears little resemblance to the old grocery store.

A reception area has replaced the counter where alcohol and cigarettes were once sold. A well-lit lunch counter, accessible to the ADA, seating 30 people, lines a wall in an area once occupied by the floral section of the store. The dining room, with booths and tables for an additional 125 people, is in the old deli section, while an adjoining area in the old bakery can accommodate 225 diners for larger dinners.

Three closed, regulation-sized pickle ball courts have been constructed at the rear of the building that once housed the meat and poultry departments, while a theater / auditorium – seating up to 175 people – is located near an area of ​​the store that was once occupied by the dairy and wine section.

The center now houses offices for senior service personnel, a large technological classroom, a dance studio, a craft room, a loan closet for the elderly in need of medical equipment and classrooms. / offices that can be rented to companies that cater to the elderly.

“The Moore Pharmacy, which anchors one end of the building, is ideal for the needs of the elderly,” said Riggozi. “We will also have a salon and day spa at the other end of the building.”

The new activity center for the elderly has a marked walking path that goes around the interior of the building.

“We called it the flagship of the senior centers,” said Rosalie Plechaty, chair of the committee overseeing the capital improvement project.

To respond to needs

The new activity center was designed to meet the needs of the programs offered at the current senior center and to be marketed to community groups at large or small gatherings.

Reconstruction of the interior of the building began in April and is being overseen by CL Construction.

“I’m really surprised at how far this (reconstruction) has gone with COVID-19,” said Barbara Bowman, advisor at Dickerson Baker, who is helping with the fundraising campaign.

Increased construction costs and supply issues, as well as overhaul of sanitary arrangements during the pandemic, played a role in increasing the cost of the project.

In April, Senior Services estimated the cost of the reconstruction at $ 2.5 million. However, the cost is now $ 3.2 million.

“Some things have changed along the way,” said Rigozzi. “For example, we were originally going to keep the old lighting and ceiling panels, but we decided to switch to LED lighting and new panels as well as all of the parking lot lights, which cost over $ 150. $ 000. “

Senior Services has secured funding for the project, but will need to raise funds to repay the loan.

It does this by offering companies and groups the opportunity to sponsor different rooms and sections of the activity center. Some groups have already come forward.

Sturgis Bank sponsored the walking trail, while an anonymous donor donated $ 100,000 to pay for the creation of the large loan closet.

A wall from the activity center in the dining room will house a large three-dimensional mural recognizing donors. The mural will be created by South Haven artist Kayla Wyszynski Ridley, who plans to design it as a tree highlighted by metal-shaped leaves that can each be sponsored by donors.

The general public will be able to see the activity center nearing completion during an open house from 10 a.m. to noon on October 23.

For more information about donating to the fundraising campaign, call 637-3607 or donate online at For more information, contact Rosalie Plechaty at [email protected] or Diane Rigozzi at [email protected]