Jewish Community Center breaks ground on $11.5 million expansion in Overland Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Jewish Community Center leaders broke ground Tuesday on the 32,000-square-foot Staenberg Family Recreation Center.

“A lot of people say you can never go home, but I’m back and I really feel Kansas City is my second home," Staenberg said.

Staenberg came to Kansas City fresh out of college in 1976 knowing no one in town. The first place he visited was the Jewish Community Center.

"They at least took interest to guide me to something better," he said.

He’d go on to build commercial developments totaling more than 40 million-square-feet worldwide.

But no buildings are more important to him than the seven Jewish Community Centers he’s helped build or renovate. He recently gave $3.6 million toward the current expansion of the Overland Park campus that opened back in 1987.

“The JCCs are the cornerstone of the Jewish life and the Jewish community. It brings people together and it also brings others in to understand what it means to be Jewish and how to be tolerant," Staenberg said.

A majority of the 274,000 people who visit Overland Park's Jewish Community Center annually aren’t Jewish. The J’s president said while that’s helped create a better sense of community, they’ve simply run out of space.

“We’re going to be able to accommodate so many more individuals in all of our programming a lot of our programming is maxed out from our day camps to our sports and recreation programs," Jim Sluyter said.

Plans for the $11.5 million expansion include a new gymnasium, indoor turf field, renovated fitness zone, yoga and dance studios and a splash pad.

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