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Red Cross remodeling Albany site

The American Red Cross Disaster Services building on Pine Avenue is currently closed for renovations. Officials say it will reopen in September.

The American Red Cross Disaster Services building on Pine Avenue is currently closed for renovations. Officials say it will reopen in September.

ALBANY -- Officials with the American Red Cross have said that the Albany office is currently closed, but will reopen with a new look.

Leisa Cross, formerly the executive director of the Flint River Chapter of the American Red Cross before recently accepting another position within the organization, said that officials had determined that the Pine Avenue building needed a lot of work done -- so they sold the building to an area realty company that is paying for the renovations.

Once the remodeling process, expected to cost $100,000, is complete, the company will lease it back to the Red Cross rent-free for 10 years, Cross said.

Some of the work expected to be done will include refurbishing the air-conditioning and heat systems, fixing the leaky roof, and recarpeting and repainting a portion of the building.

"We are bringing it up to code," Cross said. "It will be a safer, cleaner environment and help us be a better steward of donated dollars."

The remaining space not to be used by the Red Cross will be rented out to area businesses, Cross said. She also said the company would be paying the office's power bill as well.

"All we'll be paying is the phone bill," Cross said.

She would not release the name the realty company donating the services.

Cross said a report The Albany Herald received that the Albany office would be manned solely by volunteers when it reopened was incorrect.

"That's not true," Cross said. "We will continue to do what we have been doing (after renovations)."

In the meantime, she said, there are staff members working from their homes in the Albany area and other staff members currently working out of the Red Cross office in Americus -- which is also part of the Flint River chapter.

Mari Wright, who was the director of philanthropy at the chapter before leaving to assume a position at the Water, Gas and Light Commission on July 18, was able to see the plans before her departure.

"I'm looking forward to it being re-opened, even though I'm no longer there," she said.

The remodeling is expected to be complete in time for a Sept. 1 ribbon-cutting. Officials do not expect to be getting rid of any services once it opens back up, Cross said.

The Red Cross announced earlier this week that it is closing a second Albany location -- the blood donation center on Dawson Road. That facility is scheduled to shut down on Dec. 31.