AUSTIN – The city council has agreed to sell public land that will allow the development of a youth and recreation center on the West Side.
Construction of the North Austin Community Center is underway on land adjacent to 1841 N. Laramie Ave. after the city sold this land for $ 1 in 2020.
Now, the land at 5113 Vacant Street will be sold for $ 1 to Expert Management Inc., a company that will clean up the property before handing it over to the North Austin Community Center.
The $ 31 million project is being developed through a partnership between the By the Hand Club for Kids and the Grace and Peace Church Revival Center, with additional support from Intentional Sports and the Chicago Neighborhood Institute.
The North Austin Community Center will be a state-of-the-art sports facility that will provide after-school programs and athletic opportunities to local youth. The center will begin to address the lack of programs and facilities for young people on the West Side, said John Zayas, pastor of Grace and Peace Church.
“There’s something about having a facility with that kind of quality and expertise and being able to really give kids purpose and hope. They will be able to dream of what they could be, ”said Zayas.
The Vacant Street land was once the site of the Glidden paint factory, which left the land “heavily contaminated,” said Mike Parella, a project manager working on the project for the city’s Planning Department. .
Expert Management Inc. has agreed to perform the environmental restoration of the land at its own expense, Parella said. The company is a subsidiary of AkzoNobel, the Dutch conglomerate that previously owned the paint factory which contaminated the land.
A By The Hand clubhouse under development at the center is expected to serve at least 400 children from the neighborhood public schools. The clubhouse will host after-school programs offering academic assistance, technology education, tutoring and mentoring.
“Our role in this new facility will be to help our children excel academically while loving them holistically,” said Donnita Travis, Executive Director of By the Hand.
Outside there will be fields and courts which should serve at least 25,000 participants each year. This last field sold by the city will eventually become the project’s largest outdoor athletics field.
The campus will include Chicago Fire FC Soccer Field, which will become the city’s only FIFA-compliant indoor turf arena and the West Side’s largest turf field. The Fire will also offer at least 20 hours of free community soccer programming per week on campus.
The Jason Heyward Baseball Academy will also offer athletic training at the center.
“The pandemic and what happened with the riots, our children had no hope. We saw that the children were desperate. We believe that we will give the children the opportunity to find some hope again, ”said Zayas.
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