Inside the walls of the beige and faded green Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Truman Drive, two city staffers greet visitors.
Even though it’s lunchtime, the 23,500-square-foot center is mostly quiet, with few people occasionally walking through its double doors.
But excitement is buzzing within historic Stop Six for a new community center, which will replace the current aging facility that opened in 1973.
The new $25.7 million community center, currently dubbed “The Hub,” is part of the 2022 city bond election and will be in the 5100 block of Avenue G. The new 28,000-square-foot building will serve not only as a community center but also will house an early learning center and aquatics center.
Victor Turner, director of neighborhood services for the city of Fort Worth, said this project will complement other redevelopment efforts in an area that has historically been underserved. That includes several housing projects, commercial districts and other services from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative grant.
The city of Fort Worth and Fort Worth Housing Solutions were awarded a $35 million grant in April 2020 to transform the area.
Turner said the project is still in the planning phase and a timeline for groundbreaking has not yet been determined.
Turner described this type of center as an asset not only for the Stop Six area but for Fort Worth as a whole.
“Being placed there in Stop Six is going to really help residents that are moving in the area, to have not only the services there but some recreation opportunities as well,” Turner said.
Donations continue to come in for the new center’s design. City Council accepted a $50,000 donation from the Amon G. Carter Foundation on Nov. 8, bringing the foundation’s total donation to $375,000. So far, $927,500 in donations have been accepted for the master planning, programming and schematic design of the center.
Mary-Margaret Lemons, president of Fort Worth Housing Solutions, said this project stemmed from conversations in 2019 with community residents about what they would like to see in Stop Six.
“As we met with the community to dream about what could be for Stop Six, a common thread emerged of a centrally located space that combined resources and recreation. Hundreds of people agreed that a multifunction space was needed to bring in the services and events the community wants and deserves,” Lemons said in an email statement. “We are ecstatic the city appreciated that need and answered the call. The Stop Six community is ready for their new community center and aquatic facility.”
While the new center is considered an asset for the community, some residents like Teena James are disappointed that it’s being moved out of “the heart of the Stop Six area.” She said the community has been asking for years to improve the current Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.
“You’re moving it further out, which is actually closer to a bus route. However, it’s not within a good walking distance for the safety and security of our children walking over to that new location,” James said.
Mayor Pro Tem Gyna Bivens, whose district includes Stop Six, said she is pleased that the new center will have the ability to serve more people and provide more services — including a new aquatic center.
“When you think about how Black and brown people drown more than any other group, there’s going to be an opportunity to provide swimming lessons,” Bivens said.
Once the Hub is completed, the current Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center will be demolished, Bivens said, and will remain park space.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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