CANTON — Tiana Walker has many fond memories of the former Northeast Community Center.
She grew up on Root Avenue NE a few blocks west. In the 1980s and 1990s, the building was a community center for children. They use the swimming pool, dance and play in the gym.
“I made a lot of friends here,” Walker said.
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On Saturday, she and a group of Crenshaw Secondary teachers returned to the building at 2600 25th Street NE to help the building’s newest owners with a luggage or snack event, as well as an open house.
NWBC offers entertainment, classes
Hassan Anderson purchased the property in 2019 and is working to revive the centre. It is now known as the Northeast Health and Business Center, or NWBC.
Anderson has a company that provides services and partnerships for people with developmental disabilities, and plans to use the center for his business. But he soon learned that the nearby community was eager to restore the original community center.
He wants to use the center for recreational activities, business and financial literacy classes, and workforce development programs. There is space for programs and services for clients with developmental disabilities.
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The children who lived near the center helped Anderson realize that the building could benefit the community. When he cleared the 8-acre property, nearby children helped to clear it, he said. This showed him the building’s potential.
“It’s mostly kids who need to do something nearby,” Anderson said.
Saturday’s event was the center’s first. Anderson said he came up with the idea two weeks ago and put it together with the help of Crenshaw Middle and Youtz Intermediate school staff.
Candy, Pizza and Games
Outside, he had a bounce room and a dozen cars, and people offered candy to the kids. Inside, kids can eat pizza, play basketball at the gym, and check out the building. The prize was for the winner of the sack contest, and Anderson gave away TV drawings.
Crenshaw’s teachers and counselors were also present, opening the trunk of the car to hand out candy.
“We have to show them that we have a connection to the community,” Walker said. She said it was good for students and their parents to see school teachers in the community. “It lets them know we have access.”
The Northeast Community Center was established in 1974 as a non-profit organization. It features an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, community room and gym. The center was funded by a Community Development Block Grant and closed in 2009 when funding dried up.
The building has had several owners since then. Attempts to build a family entertainment center and restaurant within the facility have been unsuccessful.
Anderson said he has invested more than $700,000 in the purchase and maintenance of the building. He hopes to work with the city on a plan to expand the facility’s outreach in nearby areas.
State Assemblyman Kevin Hall, D-6, who handed out candy at Saturday’s trunk or snack event, said residents believe the neighborhood will benefit from the center of the revival. He praised Anderson’s work to bring the building into shape.
“We’re going to make sure he can continue to do that,” Hall said.
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