The currently-closed Seabrook Family Christian Center on South Hazel Street will soon see new life and activity as Southeast Arkansas College has leased the facility for a new wellness center.


Steven Bloomberg, president of SEARK, said students, faculty and staff will be able to use the facility, which he said is “seven minutes from campus,” in the very near future.


“We’re looking to hire a couple of part-time people to help us run the facility, and we hope to be ready to open Oct. 1,” Bloomberg said.


He said that when he arrived at the school in January, he talked to students in every class and asked them what SEARK could do to help them enjoy their college experience.


“The number one thing they said is that they wanted more things to do than just go to class,” Bloomberg said.


He said the facility will give students, staff and faculty a “place to hang out, play inter-mural basketball and volleyball, lift weights and walk the track.”


“It will give students an opportunity to feel better about themselves,” Bloomberg said, adding that he expected the facility will also be home to Zumba, yoga and physical education classes, among other things.


He also said that once the facility is open, SEARK will run a shuttle bus to and from the campus to help those students who have transportation issues.


Asked if leasing the facility would lead to the establishment of competitive teams that could play other junior colleges, or even colleges, Bloomberg said, “That’s going to depend on the interest. We will get it open and then see what the interest is.”


The Seabrook Board of Directors announced in March 2017 that they would shut down the facility effective July 1, citing a sharp decline in the number of dues-paying members.


At that time, Rob Cheatwood, who was chairman of the board, and Duke Fakouri, who was vice-chairman, said that in 2007, there were 407 members at Seabrook, but by the end of 2016, that number had dropped to 64.


What is now called Seabrook began as the Pine Bluff Boys Club on the second floor of the building at 5th Avenue and Main Street, which now houses the student loan offices for Simmons Bank. Various name changes and locations followed, including for a time being located in the Merrill Center before moving to the facility on South Hazel Street in the mid-1990’s.