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Longboat's Paradise Center moves to new home

Office and most activities move up the block on Bay Isles Road for now, but more remodeling is still in store.

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  • | 11:20 a.m. December 17, 2019
Suzy Brenner and her organization's new sign on Bay Isles Road.
Suzy Brenner and her organization's new sign on Bay Isles Road.
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Numerically speaking, it’s not even a block away.

Heck, you can see The Paradise Center’s new sign from its old doorstep on the campus of Temple Beth Israel.

But in a deeper, place-to-call-home sense, the move from 567 Bay Isles Road to 546 represents a milestone for executive director Suzy Brenner, executive assistant Mary Ann Brady, The Paradise Center board and the thousands of Longboat Key residents who take part in its activities.

It’s something the non-profit agency that is “focused solely on finding ways to help the members of our community live life to the fullest,’’ has been chasing for years since beginning operations in 2008 on the second floor of Longboat Island Chapel as the Aging in Paradise Center, then the temple at the circular end of Bay Isles Road beginning in mid-2018.

“We're excited to get in there and just start operating out of there,’’ Brenner said. “It's a beautiful building. It will be the first time that we are in our own space.”

The former Northern Trust building opposite Town Hall has been undergoing renovations and remodeling since not long after moving plans were announced in February, 2019.

Ultimately, the building will host not only The Paradise Center’s full operations, but also the Center for Brain Health, Fitness Quest, The Center for Healthy Living, other agencies and medical professionals.

Work inside the former bank office isn’t finished, so for now, The Paradise Center will operate there alone. Most of its activities will be hosted in the new location, but the biggest, such as exercise classes, will remain for a while at the temple while work is completed on a large-activity room. One tenant remains in the building, Brenner said, in the space generally planned for the activity room.

Brenner said she expects most of those agencies to be in place by early summer, with time enough to work out the kinks before the 2020 fall season begins.

“It’s not our full, final space,’’ Brenner said. “It’s a make-do space for the season. We want to be able to show off this great building to the community.”

Stratum Health System, the parent company of Tidewell Hospice and other medical providers, is partnering with The Paradise Center to make the building into a reality.

Creating the new space inside the building took longer than expected, but Brenner said the time making it right was important.

The move down the block was accomplished carload by carload on Friday. A borrowed minvan helped some as Brenner and Brady expected to report for work in the new space Monday morning. She said she expected a little confusion here and there as clients learned what was being hosted where.

When residents asked about how the work was going, Brenner said. “I ask, ‘have you ever renovated a bathroom or kitchen?’ And everybody sort of groans and says, ‘Oh yeah, it took three times as long …  and I stop and I said, 8,000 square foot building. There you go.  So we did go back to the drawing board a couple of times to help keep costs down. We are a nonprofit and the building is owned by a nonprofit. All of us nonprofits are very aware of not wasting money. You know, it comes from our donors and our sponsors and we like to do things in a very economical manner.’’