Plans announced for former Coca-Cola distribution center

Sherwood Baptist announces plans to use the former Coke plant as a ministry facility / Ashley Knight

The Coca-Cola distribution center in Albany has been sitting vacant for three years now.

But that won't always be the case.

First a bottling company, then a distribution center, the Coke Plant on Pine Avenue shut down was donated to Sherwood Baptist Church, who now wants to turn it into an inner-city ministry facility.

"We just thought that since the facility is close to the Albany High area, and that is one of the most depressed areas of our city, that we would at least start there," says Sherwood Director of Local Missions Brett Kirkland.

Spending the last year bringing it up to code and still in need of an occupation license from the city, Kirkland says it will be used as a multi-use facility.

"After school programs or ministries, adult education, as far as life skills, literacy, financial literacy."

And the transformation of the facility is really just the beginning. Sherwood Baptist has partnered with the Albany Housing Authority, who is conducting surveys in hopes of obtaining a grant that will benefit one of Albany's most poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

"That's what we arrived at McIntosh homes, it's got a poverty rate close to 50% where the general population city of Albany is around 27%," says Housing Authority Executive Director Dan McCarthy.

But the area has potential, states McCarthy, citing nearby Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Lincoln Elementary Magnet School and agencies like the Boys and Girls Club. And if a $20 million grant is awarded them, more would benefit than just housing.

"There's no grocery store reasonably accessible in the neighborhood, very limited parks and recreation that our residents can take part in. Crime is certainly an issue," says McCarthy.

Sherwood has no set date on the facility, but the housing authority will know by next year if a grant will be awarded.