KleinLife Begins $3M Renovation Project

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Andre Krug, president and CEO of KleinLife of Northeast Philadelphia, shows a rendering of what the new theater will look like as part of its $3 million capital improvements program. | Photo provided

If you head to KleinLife roughly two years from now, you might notice some major changes.

The Northeast Philadelphia community center recently embarked on a $3 million capital campaign project, which will allow it to make some improvements to its theater, parking lot, lighting system, lobby, roof, pool area, fitness center and lunch room.

“Everything is on our to-do list,” President and CEO Andre Krug said.


The theater is the first to undergo a makeover. A $150,000 grant from the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging will fund new seating, while the Pennsylvania Department of Aging provided $29,000 for the sound system.

A grant from JFRE, the real estate affinity group within the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, will allow the facility to install energy-efficient LED lighting.

The rest of the money is coming from major contributors: Steve Klein and Toby Strogatz; Murray Spain; Rachel and Jonathan Levine; Connie and Richard Berman; Marc and Esther Kaplin; Alla and Andre Krug; Lynne and Len Barrack; Gary and Vicki Erlbaum; and Gary Freedman and Abby Gilbert.

KleinLife is still in the process of raising additional funds to spend on the improvements, Krug noted.

“The theater is probably a cornerstone of our activities because it’s used a lot both for our internal purposes and for rentals,” Krug said of why they decided to start there. “It’s used really extensively and it really needs some serious work to be done.”

The theater now seats 400 people. Krug said with the renovation, it will be able to expand to seat about 450. There will also be improvements made to the stage and lights.

“Everything you can see and touch is going to be changed,” Krug said.

A mock-up of plans for the renovated theater. | Photo provided

The new seats are the biggest highlight because, as they are now, they are “the biggest sore point of this theater, people complaining because the springs are in their behinds,” he said.

The theater renovation tentatively is set to be done within the next few months.

This is the first big capital renovation to the building since its beginnings 43 years ago, Krug said.

The building sees about 2,000 people on a daily basis, he said, from seniors to children.

Being able to provide programming and a facility to host such an array of visitors is a goal Krug hopes to maintain and grow with the renovations.

“We continue to evolve into this kind of social service organization and wellness organization, and we’re becoming more and more part of the neighborhood,” he said. “We want to continue to be relevant and continue to be a welcoming place for people from all kind of walks of life.”

Moreover, he hopes the renovations will entice more people to visit and take advantage of the programming KleinLife offers.

They have created more programming with a focus on wellness, particularly for the senior population it serves. Krug hopes to be able to serve people of all ages, including KleinLife’s 102-year-old librarian, who personifies his hope that the facility becomes a home away from home for its clients.

“We understand the necessity of the center and people come here anyway because of the services that we provide,” he noted, “but we also want to be welcoming, that people come here and say, ‘Wow!’ and be proud to be part of this institution. We want to be here.

“This capital campaign is what we envisioned for a long time,” he added, “and now it’s going to become a reality.”

mstern@jewishexponent.com;215-832-0740

1 COMMENT

  1. Very beautiful update for our brethren residing in Northeast Philadelphia and nearby communities of Huntingdon Valley and Bucks County. But how about the thousands of us who, for many decades, used the Gershman YMHA in Center City, which is now history, unfortunately? What better time to discuss a Center City location for a brand-new JCC, to service the needs of tens of thousands of folks from all backgrounds who need an all-purpose facility for total enrichment. It is not impossible.

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