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Virginia Institute of Autism to open new facility for adults with autism

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Print this page By Kate Andrews | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

On Wednesday, the Charlottesville-based Virginia Institute of Autism will announce plans for a new facility for adolescents and adults with autism.

The Center for Adolescent and Autism Services (CAAAS) will renovate a 21,788-square-foot space now occupied by The Center, a nonprofit-owned facility for senior citizens on Hillsdale Drive that VIA is acquiring. The nonprofit plans to close on the purchase April 1, according to Larry Garretson, VIA’s director of communications and foundation relations. The Center for seniors, meanwhile, will move to Belvedere, a neighborhood in Charlottesville.

The Center, built in 1991, is listed at $3.2 million by Colliers International.

Details — including cost of the project — are still being nailed down, but VIA expects the rehab and renovations to be finished by next fall, and for all staff and services to be fully moved in by early 2021, Garretson says. Part of the expansion is to provide a home for VIAble Ventures, a candle-making business that provides adults with autism an opportunity to earn income, he added, with other new businesses in the center’s future.

Cathy Purple Cherry, principal of Purple Cherry Architects and Purposeful Architecture, will design the renovations; she specializes in special-needs architecture and is the mother of an adult son with autism. She will discuss her plans at an open house VIA is hosting Wednesday at The Center to announce the plans.

“We know that as people with autism age and graduate from high school, their opportunities for learning, for jobs and for social connection diminish severely,” Ethan Long, VIA’s president, said in a statement. “VIA has been focused on finding solutions to that problem for a number of years. As our programs have developed, they’ve grown beyond the capacity of our existing facilities.”

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