First Seafarer Walks into Renovated Center

Nov 22, 2010

Construction Yields SCI’s  ‘Super-Center’ for Seafarers

At 12:00 noon EST, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) opened the doors of its newly renovated International Seafarers’ Center in the largest port complex on the East Coast. Earlier today, the Center received a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, allowing the Institute to begin use of its new 18,000-square-foot Center, which situates vital resources for the maritime community in the heart of Port Newark.

The Rev. David M. Rider, SCI’s President and Executive Director, traveled to the Center early this morning. News from local authorities confirmed that SCI could begin using its renovated facilities this afternoon. Rider and Institute staff rejoiced, eager to share what for months was hidden by scaffolding and construction dust.

Rider’s team watched the first seafarers roll into the renovated Center, escorting them from the temporary structure the Institute has used during construction. Taking the first few steps across the new threshold, a seafarer from the Marguerite Ace, a car-carrier in port, uttered, “Beautiful, sir … beautiful!”

First opened in the 1960s, SCI’s International Seafarers’ Center needed replacement of old engineering systems and refurbishment of public spaces. Over a year ago, SCI broke ground on a construction project that would offer “radical hospitality,” according to Rider. The renovated Center contains a chapel, Internet café, telephone banks, business services, conference rooms, offices, a recreation lounge, basketball courts, and a sports field.

John O'Hara Company, Inc. brought to life an airy, contemporary design from the blueprints of Clawson Architects. SCI’s renovated Center stands impressively. The brick exterior and large glass walls contrast the rugged, machinery-filled surroundings of the port, offering a “safe haven” for the maritime community.

Today, SCI opens the second and third floors of the new accommodations the building offers for seafarers. A full opening of the Center, which includes a fitness center and food services, takes place over the coming months. After that time, according to Rider, the Institute plans a full rededication ceremony including an open house.

For further details about the Port Newark International Seafarers’ Center and to make a contribution toward the $13-million project, contact SCI’s President and Executive Director at EDOffice@seamenschurch.org or (212) 349-9090.