1. Pinellas

Shepherd Center to expand in Tarpon Springs

TARPON SPRINGS — Shepherd Center officials say they're moving forward with a planned expansion of their downtown headquarters.

According to the nonprofit's marketing director, Fred Howard, a ribbon cutting ceremony will be scheduled in the next week for the Hope Center, a 1,600-square-foot space behind the organization's S Pinellas Avenue food pantry and thrift store. The addition will feature a serving kitchen, laundry room, office and dining space, an outdoor patio and restrooms with showers.

"We finally obtained the permits and raised all the money needed to move forward with a project that has been a dream the Shepherd Center has been trying to accomplish for 20 years," Howard said. "This is a game-changer for the homeless and indigent, to be able to get a hot meal and change clothes, to bathe. This is a big deal."

When the project was announced last year, Shepherd Center officials estimated the cost at $200,000, with a stated goal of raising $50,000 to start construction.

Howard said the work, which is being overseen by local architect Ed Hoffman would start as soon as the contractor is ready, and he estimated the build-out would take roughly 60-90 days.