Construction to Start On New Bethlehem House in Conway

Leaders of homeless shelter Bethlehem House in Conway expect to see construction start on a new, $1.3 million facility later this month or early in January.

This month, the organization raised the final funds needed to build the 7,400-SF facility on 1.15 acres Bethlehem House owns at 1115 Parkway St. The new building will house up to 35 full-time residents and up to 16 people for emergency shelter. It should open by October 2013.

The 22-year-old nonprofit originally opened in 1991 in the single-family dwelling at 930 Faulkner St. where it is currently located. However, the approximately 100-year-old house has “been worn hard” and will likely have to be demolished, said Jill Imboden, development coordinator for Bethlehem House.

“We have both outgrown it and it’s not sustainable,” Imboden said. “We lovingly call it the ‘money pit.’ … It’s really beyond repair.”

Bethlehem House hopes to sell the Faulkner Street property, she said.

Executive Director Judi Lively said the shelter has been leasing two additional facilities on Faulkner Street to accommodate the organization’s total of 35 residents.

The new building will allow Bethlehem House to consolidate its operations into one location, reducing costs, she said. The new building will also have features the old one didn’t offer, such as handicapped accessibility and an expanded soup kitchen.

“It just allows us to better serve the homeless and the hungry in our community,” Lively said.

Burrough-Brasuell Corp. of Van Buren and Stan Hobbs of Nabholz Construction Services in Conway designed the new shelter. Nabholz is also set to construct it.