Austin Coming Together held its annual summit on Saturday to highlight successes and goals for the final year of the five-year quality-of-life plan.
Over 200 people gathered at the By the Hand Club for Kids‘ Austin campus for the first time since 2019, when the plan was in its first year of implementation. Over $100 million of investments have been made in Austin since then, said Darnell Shields, ACT’s executive director.
Major advances were celebrated including the upcoming openings of the North Austin Community Center and BUILD’s Youth and Community Hub. The Aspire Center for Workforce Innovation and the Laramie State Bank redevelopment are set to start construction this year and open in 2024.
The North Austin Community Center, a 150,000 square-foot facility with an indoor soccer field, basketball courts and classrooms, will open Feb. 2 and serve 400 kids a day. The $35 million development, located at 1841 N. Laramie Ave., is a collaborative effort among By the Hand Club, Grace and Peace Church, Intentional Sports and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives.
The campus will be “transformative and catalytic” for North Austin, said Donnita Travis, By the Hand Club’s executive director.
“By developing that empty, toxic land, we are improving the safety and the health and the hope of the neighborhood,” Travis said.
Pastor John Zayas of Grace and Peace Church, credited Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who was at Saturday’s summit, for helping with the development of the campus. Mitts blocked the city from building a solar panel farm on the previously empty lot, Zayas said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of BUILD’s Youth and Community Hub will be on Feb. 25, said Adam Alonso, CEO of BUILD Chicago. Located at 5100 W. Harrison St., the building features an art studios, a café, a mental health center and a full gym with a track – and will be open seven days a week. The BUILD team surveyed 100 youth on what they would like to see in the new building, Alonso said.
“When we open, you’ll see what was the dream of our young people,” Alonso said. “The only thing that did not make it in was a swimming pool. Apart from that, everything else made it inside that building.”
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