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Salvation Army community center proposed for 19-acre LB site

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Staff Writer

The Salvation Army has proposed a “world class” center of “opportunity, education, recreation and inspiration” for the 19-acre Hamilton Bowl site located just north of Pacific Coast Highway and Walnut Avenue in Long Beach. So far, a wide array of past and present city officials and business leaders has come out in strong support of the center.
Last Thursday, Salvation Army Major Glen Madsen described the proposed center to an audience of about 40 people who attended the monthly luncheon of the Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce at the Signal Hill Community Center.
Madsen noted that upon her death in 2003, Joan Kroc, the widow of McDonald’s restaurants founder Ray Kroc, bequeathed $1.6 billion to the Salvation Army, solely for the purpose of establishing Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Centers throughout the United States. The first such center opened in San Diego in 2002 while Joan Kroc was still alive. She had donated $87 million for that center, which served as a prototype for the national project. Another Kroc Center opened recently in San Francisco. and 29 more centers are now planned for development in various states.
Madsen explained that the Salvation Army proposed the center at Hamilton Bowl to Long Beach soon after Joan Kroc’s death. He added that her endowment had allocated $80 million for that project, which is estimated to cost about $125 million. “The Salvation Army has put assets in the neighborhood of $20 million into it,” he said. “We commenced our capital campaign in earnest this year and have raised another $6 million with a wonderful gift from the Signal Hill Barto family of Signal Hill Petroleum.” He added that the remaining $19 million must come from other donations and grants.
The major then spent about 10 minutes describing various aspects of the proposed Long Beach project. He noted that it will include a performing arts center with a music conservatory that will offer musical education and training to children beginning at a very young age. Madsen explained that the music department of California State University at Long Beach will participate.
He added that that the culinary arts department of Long Beach City College, which has a campus adjacent to the planned Kroc Center, will help provide culinary training at the center’s educational facility, which will also house a computer lab, a child care center, a music studio, a videography lab, other classrooms and the center’s administrative offices.
The center will also have a 16,000-square-foot chapel/auditorium, a dance studio, a 25-meter warm-up pool, a recreation pool with a slide and fountains, an indoor warm-water therapy pool, a 50-meter pool, and an 80,000-square-foot gymnasium.
Other recreational facilities on the campus will include four indoor basketball courts, a fitness center, an elevated jogging track, a gymnastics area, soccer and baseball fields, a rock-climbing wall, walking paths and a 1,000-seat amphitheater. The facility will also feature a horticultural center, a sound studio, a game room, art studios, lecture halls, a library and multi-purpose rooms.
“Everything that we do here has to be world class,” Madsen stressed. “The concept that Mrs. Kroc had was to level the playing field and have folks from different socio-economic backgrounds come to utilize the facility.” He stressed that Olympic swimmers and people just learning how to swim will feel at home in the pools, while professional musicians as well as novices will enjoy the music studio.
After his oral presentation, Madsen showed a seven-minute video featuring Joan Kroc as well as various civic and community leaders from Long Beach and Signal Hill who have come out in strong support of the center.
“These kids are the most precious, precious treasures that we have,” Kroc said. “This complex can not only be a (center for growing up) but a way to learn peaceful existence.”
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster appeared in the video, noting that about 70,000 people live within a mile radius of Hamilton Bowl and about 30 percent of them live at the poverty level. He stressed that the center would improve the quality of their lives, provide wholesome alternatives to the children of the area, and offer educational opportunities to enable all residents to better their lives.
“The center itself will generate revitalization in the area,” Foster added. “Other businesses will want to locate near that center.” The mayor encouraged everyone to donate to the project.
Signal Hill Mayor Mike Noll agreed. “(By donating), you’re going to give hope to families, you’re going to give hope to kids,” he said. “You’re going to give them an education and help them feel good about themselves and that will make you feel better about yourself.”
To find out more about the Kroc Center or how to make donations, contact Madsen at (562) 424-2500 or email him at [email protected]

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Salvation Army community center proposed for 19-acre LB site