Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta plans $36M in renovations

Credit: Courtesy Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta

Credit: Courtesy Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta

The center’s Dunwoody campus will undergo a $20 million remodeling

The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta is planning a $20 million renovation of its Dunwoody campus, known as Zaban Park.

Construction is set to start in late summer. In addition, the nonprofit is planning a nearly $10 million remodeling of its overnight summer camp in Cleveland, Georgia at Camp Barney Medintz.

Wednesday, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) announced that a capital fundraising campaign of $36 million in upgrades has raised $31.5 million from eight major donors. The center is now turning to the wider community for donations.

“The goal is to have raised all funds by fall of this year,” Jared Powers, CEO of the nonprofit said.

In addition to the nearly $30 million for renovating the two locations, the Jewish Community Center says $6 million will be used for unforeseen circumstances ($2.8 million), capital reserve ($2.8 million) and campaign fees ($500,000).

Powers describes the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta as a connector of people of all backgrounds, regardless of race, religion or gender.

“People come to us from everywhere,” he said.

The center is a gathering place for games, sports and recreational activities. The center’s Jerry’s Habima Theatre company is celebrating its 30th anniversary and features actors with special needs. And MJCCA’s annual book festival draws best selling authors and celebrities discussing their work.

The nonprofit was founded in 1910 as the Jewish Education Alliance and operated out of midtown. The Zaban Park site opened in 1961 and became the main campus in 2000 when the organization was renamed the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.

Plans at the 52-acre campus include renovations to the main building, a 140,000 square foot space. Renovations include remodeling the aquatics facility, adding a new pickleball facility with a social area, and constructing an additional parking lot. Playgrounds and ball fields will be upgraded, and a multisport field will be added for summer camp and year-round use, Powers said.

Renovations are scheduled to start at the end of August with estimated completion by mid-spring 2024.

Camp Barney Medintz, in its 60th year, is located on 550 acres in Cleveland, Georgia and has wood structures, said Steven Cadranel, an MJCCA board member and former president.

Cabins, restrooms and the dining hall will be renovated.

The overnight camp serves 1,200 children per summer, according to MJCCA.

During its “quiet campaign phase,” the nonprofit received $6 million from The Zalik Foundation, $12 million from The Marcus Foundation in addition to $1 million and $500,000 gifts from other donors, a statement said.

“We have a long partnership with the (Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta) that allows us to find opportune ways to deepen our impact in Jewish Atlanta for decades to come,” Bernie Marcus, chairman of The Marcus Foundation, said in the statement. “We are thrilled to be part of this momentous capital campaign effort and look forward to continuing to fund initiatives that support Jewish identity building.”

On Monday, Powers said a portion of the funds will be dedicated to security measures, but declined to provide details.

“The enhancements are significant. And that is always our top priority — the safety of our staff, members and guests,” he said.