One year after a public outcry halted efforts by Iron Gate soup kitchen and grocery pantry to relocate from downtown to the Pearl District, the nonprofit plans to build its new facility on a 1.5-acre site between Seventh and Eighth streets and south Elgin and Kenosha avenues, multiple sources familiar with the deal told The Frontier on Wednesday.
The individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Susan Miller, director of land development services for the Indian Nations Council of Governments, said she could not confirm Iron Gate’s proposed new location. She did acknowledge, however, that an application seeking a special exception to the zoning code for that property has been submitted to the Board of Adjustment. INCOG provides staffing for the Board of Adjustment.
The application seeks the special exception for a “governmental services” facility — a broad category that could include a social services facility such as soup kitchen — to be built on the site.
The application was submitted by attorney Lou Reynolds. Reynolds was unavailable for comment Thursday. Iron Gate’s executive director, Connie Cronley, was also unavailable for comment.
The application is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the Board of Adjustment — the same body that stopped Iron Gate’s planned relocation in its tracks last year — on Oct. 25.
Last September, Iron Gate asked the BOA to consider another special exception to the zoning code that, if granted, would have permitted the construction of a 16,000-square-foot facility at 302 S. Peoria Ave. The proposal was highly controversial, and the board’s 2-2 vote killing the project reflected that.
Opponents of the proposal said then that having the facility in their neighborhood would damage property values and potentially lead to more homeless people in the area. They also argued that city development guidelines designate another area of town for social services — a claim that is not accurate.
Iron Gate officials argued that the new, larger facility was needed to accommodate its ever-growing number of clients. The soup kitchen was established in 1978 by parishioners of Trinity Episcopal Church, 501 S. Cincinnati Ave., who stepped out of a Bible study to made a sandwich for someone, according to its website.
It has since become a separate entity from the church and serves more than 200,000 meals a year and tens of thousands of bags of groceries to the poor and homeless.
In making their case for the Pearl District site, Iron Gate officials noted that they had done an exhaustive search for a new location and that their multi-million dollar investment would not only fit in seamlessly with the other new developments in the Pearl District but also increase property values.
Private and public bus service would also provide clients with easy access to and from the facility, Iron Gate officials said.