Petersburg mental health buys Totem Arms apartments


Petersburg Mental Health Services bought the Totem Arms apartments earlier this month as part of a long-term plan to transition and expand its office and service areas from its current location above the Wells Fargo building. Totem Arms apartments are located on Fram Street, two blocks up from Main Street.

PMHS has been operating for the past 19 years in its current location. Susan Ohmer, PMHS Executive Director, said the organization has grown and it’s time to find a space to keep up.

“We’ve got employees whose offices are hallways and closets and corners,” Ohmer said.

The space will have a commercial kitchen which means staff can conduct its cooking classes in the PMSH facility rather than in staff or client’s homes. Additional space will also provide an opportunity for increased grant funding for expanded programs.

“If there was a great project that came open now we couldn’t apply for it because there’s no place to put anybody else,” Ohmer said. “We’ve maybe got one more closet we could probably empty out.”

PMHS purchased the building November 1 for $530,000. There are no immediate plans to move in because Ohmer wants to remodel the building—a project she doesn’t see taking place for another five years.

“It’s important for us to communicate to the tenants that we’re not looking at this as something that’s going to happen anytime soon,” Ohmer said. “It’s going to take us a long time, years, to figure out how to get the funding.”

Ohmer said the remodel comes with a $1.5 million price tag. PMHS has secured $100,000 in funding so far and has leads on other options like substance abuse grant funding from the state. Roughly 40 percent of PMHS clients are seen for substance abuse.

“We will not ask for a dollar of capital funds from the borough,” Ohmer said. “Even if we have to wait years longer we’re not going to do that. This has to be something that we’re doing that doesn’t impact our community negatively.”


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