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Service for disabled to build more accessible location


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Manager Greg Armbruster talks about the services Franklin's Hillcroft Services offers, including providing full-time jobs and therapy programs to about 60 residents with special needs. Steve Garbacz / Daily Journal
Manager Greg Armbruster talks about the services Franklin's Hillcroft Services offers, including providing full-time jobs and therapy programs to about 60 residents with special needs. Steve Garbacz / Daily Journal


A Franklin organization that offers programs and jobs to residents with developmental disabilities will move into a new facility by the end of the year.

Hillcroft Services is planning a new building at the northwest corner of Commerce Parkway and Arvin Road. The new facility will be smaller than the current location at 400 N. Forsythe St. but will be built with wider doorways and restrooms that are more accessible to people with disabilities.

Hillcroft Services serves about 60 area residents with developmental disabilities by offering them jobs or day programs, and the new building will give the organization space to grow, company officials said.

The group’s current location is designed for manufacturing. The wide-open warehouse space is bigger than Hillcroft needs and could use entry ramps and other improvements to make it more accessible to disabled workers, chief executive officer Debbie Bennett said.

Future facility

Moving: Hillcroft Services, a group that provides jobs and therapy programs to local residents with developmental disabilities, will move to a new location on Commerce Parkway in December. The company has operated its workshop at 400 N. Forsythe St. for about five years. Workers are given tasks including dismantling, sorting or inspecting items, such as CD cases or gloves.

Accessibility: The current facility is larger than the company needs, but the industrial warehouse wasn’t designed for people with disabilities. The new building will include more accessible doorways and restrooms and have separate rooms for programs, offices and a lunchroom. Hillcroft will downsize from about 19,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet.

Tax break: City officials approved a five-year tax break for the $400,000 facility. Hillcroft has promised to create one new job. The company currently employs nine workers and has 56 full-time clients.

The new $400,000 facility will be complete by mid-December, CTC04 developer Joel Fritz said.

The city approved a five-year tax break for the new building, with the promise that Hillcroft will create at least one new job. The company currently employs nine full-time staff members and has 56 full-time clients, according to documents filed with the city. CTC04 will save $25,650 in taxes over the five-year term. Hillcroft will lease the building when it moves in this year but could purchase it from CTC04 in the future, Bennett said.

Hillcroft Services provides clients with jobs or therapy programs to help improve life skills and help people with disabilities live independently.

At the Franklin facility, several carts and pallets are stacked inside the warehouse with work to be completed.

A few workers dismantle a shipment of Xbox 360 video games, removing disks and papers from the neon green cases and sorting all of the pieces. Another group inspects work gloves used by metal manufacturers for holes or burns.

The facility gets a few crates shipped in each week, and workers typically go through several carts of glove inspections or pallets of items each week, Franklin facility manager Greg Armbruster said.

Hillcroft Services will downsize from 19,000 square feet to about 12,000 in the new building, but it will still be enough to meet the group’s needs, Bennett said. If the program grows, it will have the option to expand the building to about twice the size.

The current facility isn’t ideal, officials said. Four temporary walls section off an area for the Creativity Unlimited program, a day program for clients who are unable to work or past retirement age. The access ramp to the front door isn’t very wide or gently sloped, and the restrooms aren’t designed for multiple people with disabilities.

Having more accessible entrances and restrooms will be an improvement, and the new building will also have separate rooms for the day programs, staff offices and a lunchroom, Bennett said.

Construction is expected to start in September on the building, which will be the first of up to four the company could develop at the site as a new small-business park, Fritz said.

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