St. Joseph Center broke ground on a new headquarters that spans the Venice and Santa Monica border Thursday, March 22nd.

On the eve of its 30th anniversary, the center held a groundbreaking ceremony at its new site on 204 Hampton Drive, Venice. Parts of the property are located in Santa Monica.

The center’s previous location was in Venice in the St. Clement school building which will be demolished in the next few months.

On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony were St. Joseph Center original founders, Sister Louise Bernstein and Sister Marilyn Rudy.

“This is very hard to believe,” Bernstein said. “It’s become all we’ve hoped for and so much more.”

Scheduled for completion in late 2007, the new main service center is designed to accommodate 3,000 working-poor individuals and provide childcare, job training, and free groceries.

“The new building is a quality, yet economical project,” said Charles Oltman, vice president of the architectural design firm Austin AECOM.

Santa Monica Mayor Robert Holbrook, Santa Monica Councilmen Kevin McKeown and Richard Bloom, Sisters Bernstein and Rudy, and officials from the City of Los Angeles ceremoniously dug into a pile of dirt to commemorate the start of construction.

“It is a partnership that we appreciate,” Holbrook said of the City of Santa Monica’s relationship with the social service agency, which provides services in Venice, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.