MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – PACE Enterprises of WV has been awarded a $750,000 grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh for an independent living facility in Star City called PACE Place, part of their Vision 2025 program.

Director of Marketing and Development Joe Lefkay told WAJR News that the grant amount puts them in a position to begin planning the next steps.

“It is a grant for $750,000, which should help us get things started this spring along with what we already have in hand for donations,” Lefkay said.

The organization, originally named PACE TEC, has been helping disabled people enter the local workforce since 1972. The new facility is part of their vision for the future and will be built on the site of their first location in the area, Pleasant Hill in Star City.

“Continuing to go along with our mission of providing meaningful and gainful employment to those with disabilities, now we’re able to give a small percentage an opportunity to live on their own,” Lefkay said.

Statistics show West Virginia has the highest percentage nationwide of people living with disabilities, at 25 percent, and he expects the twelve units to fill almost immediately. At PACE Enterprises, as many as 150 clients participate in the community employment program.

“We will break ground sometime this spring on the new facility, which will be a 12-unit independent housing facility for those with disabilities in the area,” Lefkay said.

The proposed design is about 9,000 square feet and includes two floors, the first reserved for residents and the second designed to house the facility manager of the property. Each room will include basic amenities, community living spaces, and an open kitchen in the center so those living in the facility can converse with fellow residents.

“There will be a resident manager, but it won’t be like an assisted living facility,” Lefkay said. “If someone needs care, they’ll have to continue their own care, but it is open to not just Pace clients but anyone with a disability.”

When the project was introduced in July 2023, it came with a price tag of $2.5 million, and Lefkay said inflation has pushed that number to $3.2 million.

“It will be a 12 to 18-month process from the time we break ground,” Lefkay said. “We’re at about 60 percent of the cost in hand thanks to this grant.”

Lefkay thanked Terry Reed Cutright & Associates, Brad Frankhouser, a PACE board member, and Principals Desmone & Associates Architects and MVB Bank for their help in the successful grant submission.