Dickinson, Inc. reveals plans for building project

Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

New property acquired in downtown St. Marys by Dickinson, Inc. will allow the behavioral health provider to centralize and expand their services while providing ease of access to clients.
“We’ve realized the efficiencies that are gained by being centralized. It’s been one of those concepts that we’ve thrown around but never have looked to make a reality,” said Executive Director Heidi Thomas  “Since then we’ve been outgrowing our spaces so we’re just really limited on the opportunities we have right now. We are anxious to expand and centralize.”
Over the last three years the business has been seeking a location in downtown St. Marys to no avail. In June DCI announced the purchase of four buildings located along Railroad and Market streets.
While the purchase of the property is currently being completed, Thomas said they hope to break ground in the spring of 2020. The anticipated scope of the project is 18-24 months with the ultimate goal of completed in spring 2021. 
Their first step is to advertise for bids and tear down the existing properties which they hope to do by the end of the year.
Thomas explained they plan to construct a two-story building in order to mesh with the surrounding building heights. The 10,000 sq. ft. facility will be built on the front portion of Railroad Street, where the current building fronts are situated. They will not build over the nearby creek, but rather utilize the Market Street area for a parking lot. 
“It will be nice to be down there and part of the community. We hope people embrace it,” Thomas said.
DCI is working closely with the city to design a building which will maintain the historical integrity of the downtown. Thomas stated they plan to include the city in their first meeting with the architect.
She emphasized they are open to ideas for the exterior design of the building and welcome input from organizations. They are reviewing the historic guidelines of the city and the PA Wilds. 
“We understand this is a concern,” Thomas said. “We want it to be functional inside and are open to ideas for outside designs.”
Thomas noted it was cost prohibitive for them to renovate the historical properties, however any salvage material may be used in various aspects of the new building. 
She stated the city is also working with dislocated businesses to help them find a new location.
The new building will house several programs. All children services will be situated on one floor.