HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — The Huntington City Council has approved a new senior center in Huntington’s West End.

Senior citizens in the area say they’re excited about the project, and the location is convenient for many on this side of town.

“We need it tremendously,” says Brenda Spangler. Spangler lives in Madison Manor, a senior independent living high rise near the project site.

“I sit out here in the lobby, and I talk to people. And there’s people that have dial-a-ride, they go to the doctors and places–sometimes they’re waiting out here for an hour for a ride. They could walk or ride their scooter, they won’t have to depend on that dial-a-ride,” Spangler says.

The $1.5 million dollar funding is coming from the American Rescue Plan.

The project is planned for 5th Avenue and 14th Street, behind Central City’s iconic gazebo.

“The senior citizen center will be built back in there. You can see there’s plenty of room, and the road will remain there will still be a lot of traffic,” says Bob Bailey, at-large representative on Huntington’s city council.

He says he’s worked to build a senior center in this part of town for 25 years.

“Now it’s come to reality that the center will be built,” Bailey says.

A key part of the project is a wellness center.

“If someone comes in and wants a COVID-19 shot, they’ll be able to give it cause it is a wellness center also. And we will have exercise programs for the seniors, we’ll have meals for ’em, and they’ll have companionship, and that seems to be the big thing, companionship for seniors who are alone,” Bailey says.

Bailey says a previous senior center in what is now ‘The Wild Ramp’ closed around seven or eight years ago.

When the new project will be complete is still up in the air.

“In probably 18 months, maybe we can have her finished and completed,” Bailey says.

“You know, it’ll make the community come together more and it’ll give us a chance to get out and congregate more, too,” Spangler says.

The plan calls for the Cabell County Community Services Organization to own, operate, and maintain the center. In addition to the funding, each city council member will be allocated $100,000 dollars to be used in their districts to help with COVID relief.

Business owners in the area also say they are excited to see the increased foot traffic this center could bring to this quaint section of Huntington.

Dave Coster, owner of Adell’s Antiques in Central City, says the previous senior center was heavily utilized by residents of Madison Manor. He says having this extra foot traffic again would be very helpful to his business.

“There’s a lot of true and genuine excitement among the residents. Some of the merchants are a little iffy but they don’t have any experience with it. But as soon as it gets here and gets operational and we see the increased foot traffic, they’ll sing a different song,” Coster says.

City officials say they hope to break ground in the spring or early summer, followed by around a year of construction.

“We’ve been working up in Highlawn, we’ve been working up in Guyandotte, we’ve been working on the Southside, now it’s time to come to the West End and do some work for these people,” Bailey says.

“Older people need to be taken care of and I love the fact that they’re putting it in a historical arts and antiques district and it just helps everybody,” says James Hobbs, curator at Sloane Square Gallery in Central City.