A Salvation Army plan to build a $15 million complex in Coon Rapids is expected to reach a key milestone early next month.

The organization has been searching across the Twin Cities for years for a site to replace its current, deteriorating Adult Rehabilitation Center in the warehouse district of Minneapolis. A 5-acre parcel in Coon Rapids is the proposed landing spot, and the Coon Rapids City Council is expected to vote on approval of the facility at its April 7 meeting.

In addition to the rehab center, the 107,000-square-foot complex would house a donation processing facility, office space and a chapel. It would not be funded by public money, but through proceeds generated by the Salvation Army’s family stores, according to spokeswoman Julie Borgen.

The Adult Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis, located at 900 4th St. N., has been there for the past 50 years and is falling apart. It has had problems with plumbing, heating and cooling systems and asbestos.

The cost to stay and renovate in the North Loop neighborhood could be higher than building in the suburbs, Salvation Army officials say.

However, moving the facility to other communities has been a tough sell.

There’s often a misunderstanding of the program’s purpose, the Salvation Army says, and some potential host cities are against the lack of tax benefits.

The rehab center is not a homeless shelter or a hot-meal program, said Annette Bauer, public-relations director for the Salvation Army’s northern division.

“People think it will bring a scary element into their neighborhood,” Bauer said. She disputed that notion, saying the Salvation Army supervises those at the center. .

The proposed center would be a place where about 120 men recovering from drug and alcohol addiction could stay and work.

The rehab program is intensive. There are expectations and strict rules. The men work 40-hour weeks throughout the facility and are required to make a six-month commitment to the program.

A goal is to “take them out of the place that got them in the trouble they are in,” Bauer said.

Scott Harlicker, Coon Rapids’ community development planner, said that the City Council had questions for the Salvation Army during its last two workshop meetings, but that he doesn’t know how the council will vote in April.

“They didn’t give a thumbs up or a thumbs down at the workshops,” Harlicker said.

The city’s vote could either push the project forward or cause the nonprofit to turn to other options. Although it would be expensive to renovate the current location, the organization has not ruled out that option, Bauer said.

The potential site is in an area zoned for industrial uses but has a flexible provision that also could allow for some residential, Harlicker said.

Located near a ministorage facility, the plat of land has been for sale for years, he added.


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