Often a beehive of activity stemming from the eight nonprofit organizations that call it home, the Higgins Center for Nonprofits on Collett Avenue has reached a whole new level of busy-ness in recent days.
A crane, a concrete mixer and nearly a dozen hardhats have been on site, helping address a longstanding need at the 10,950-square-foot building.
And doing it at no cost.
While it has provided a good home for a number of nonprofit organizations since its opening in 2015, the Higgins Center has always presented a quandary: how best to renovate and fully utilize the interior courtyard of the rectangular building.
“With that courtyard being in the middle of that building, you can’t get anything to it,” said Mike Murphy, CEO of Bowling Green’s Scott & Murphy Inc. construction company. “Everything in there was built before they added the fourth side to the building.”
Murphy should know.
He and many of his employees have been onsite at the Higgins Center, doing the work to address a need identified by the center’s directors.
Approached by Higgins Center Committee members Ashley Reynolds and John Kelly about adding a better wheelchair ramp in the courtyard, Murphy and his employees have taken the project to a new level.
“I didn’t think it would be such a big project,” said Reynolds, executive director of the South Central Kentucky Kids on the Block organization. “They’re totally renovating the courtyard, adding a patio and wheelchair ramp and re-doing the steps.
“This is a huge donation. They’ve saved us tens of thousands of dollars.”
Murphy said his company was able to work on the project simply because the timing was right.
“John (Kelly) said they were wanting to improve the courtyard so it would be more usable,” Murphy said. “But he didn’t know how to get it done.
“We had a bridge crew that had just finished work on a bridge and were waiting to start another project. They had a big crane with a boom that could reach over the building into the courtyard.”
Using that crane, the workers have been able to pour concrete for an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp, a new patio and new steps in the courtyard of a building that once was the corporate headquarters for Minit Mart before that company’s founder, Fred Higgins, allowed the building to be used to facilitate the work of the nonprofits he supported.
“The old ramp really wasn’t functional,” Murphy said, “so we are building a new one. A portion of it can be used as a puppet stage, so it will serve two purposes.
“The steps going into the building were out of code, so we’re correcting that. That courtyard will become a usable space for all the tenants.”
That’s welcome news for Jennifer Capps, executive director of American Red Cross of South Central Kentucky.
“Our board members are wanting to get back together in person, so I hope we can utilize that space and have an outdoor meeting,” Capps said. “ ... We appreciate that it’s being done and that we’ll benefit from it.”
Murphy estimated that he and his crew will spend about three weeks on the job, and he pointed out that Reynolds Concrete Service and Bowling Green Concrete have both donated materials to the project.
“It’s not just me,” he said. “My employees allow me to do it. We have so many good local and regional customers who allow us to do things like this.”
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.