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United Way of Denton County fundraising for new building

The United Way of Denton County is raising money to build its own 12,500-square-foot building, the United Way of Denton County Community Complex. 

The $3.7 million project already has $800,000 in financial backing, but the nonprofit is looking for additional funding so it can break ground in the second quarter of 2018 at 1710 Morse St. 

"We know we're not adequately sized for today's need, and we know the metroplex growth is coming," said Gary Henderson, CEO of United Way of Denton County. "Just as you see schools being built and roads being expanded, our nonprofit community needs to be a part of the expansion to increase the capacity to serve people in need." 

United Way works to support other nonprofits and initiatives to help under-served populations. Having more space means building the reach of these programs, Henderson said. 

The nonprofit's current space on Teasley Lane costs $7,375 a month for its lease and utilities at a space that is overcrowded, Henderson said. It moved there a few years ago from Dallas Drive and was quickly able to add support from interns and volunteers, especially as United Way has added additional programs. 

That move was a test run of sorts, since the board of directors has talked about constructing a building since 2010, Henderson said. 

"[The move] more than doubled our footprint and what we saw immediately was that additional space gave us the ability to bring in more interns and volunteers," he said. "Within 18 months, we were full. And part of that goes back to how fast this county is growing and this is a need."

With a new community complex, United Way would be able to continue expansion and better serve clients, Henderson said. Currently, people are doubled and tripled in office spaces meant for a single person and there's little room to have workshops with other people and agencies. 

In the new building plans, there would be 16 staff work spaces, 10 work spaces for volunteers and interns, two conference and training rooms, four client meeting rooms, dedicated parking and an auditorium that will hold up to 200 people.

Plus, there's office space for the Denton Housing Authority. United Way bought the land on Morse Street from the DHA for $10, in exchange for United Way leading the way on the community complex that could house their offices and programming. 

The meeting space is a huge draw and meets a community need for free auditorium space, said Ellen Painter, the capital campaign chairwoman for the local United Way. 

"I know this will meet so many needs of our nonprofit agencies and other needs in the community because I can't think of any other place where you don't have to pay to use the space," she said. "The community aspect — that's what it's all about. It's about meeting the needs of the community and this will fill a huge void once we complete the building." 

Organization leaders say they hope the project can start construction by June, and once that starts it should take about a year to build, Henderson said. 

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.