After outgrowing old facility, new community learning center in works near Cardinal Village in Danville
September 23, 2019
By: John R. Crane
Source: Go Dan River
A new community learning center is coming to southern Danville to serve young people and families in Cardinal Village and the surrounding neighborhood, officials announced Monday.
“This is a youth center for the surrounding neighborhood and all of Southside Danville,” Mayor Alonzo Jones said Monday afternoon at Cardinal Village.
The 6,000-square-foot facility will be at 524 Chatham Ave. off Kemper Road and will include library/ computer room, commercial kitchen, exercise room, 2,000 square feet of recreation space and four offices.
Construction should begin in November with the project expected to be complete in August 2020, said Gary Wasson, CEO and executive director of the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which will own and operate the center.
The new Community Learning Center will build on the services already offered at the Constance Covington Youth Center, which currently offers about 120 programs and provides services to families.
“We can just expand what we’re doing,” Wasson said during an interview Monday.
The new facility will be nearly six times the size of the 1,100-square-foot Constance Covington Youth Center.
“We’ve just outgrown that,” Wasson said.
Services at the youth center will be moved to the new facility once its built, he said. The youth center, located at 1004 Bonner Ave. in Cardinal Village where Monday’s event was held, will remain open for other uses.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Cardinal Village resident Constance Covington, whom the youth center is named for.
The 10-year-old youth center was named for Covington about three years ago, she said during an interview before the ceremony.
Covington, a lifelong Danville resident, moved to Cardinal Village from Goodyear Boulevard around 2005 or 2006. She is the neighborhood’s youth coordinator and tenant association president.
The Community Learning Center will have community health care workers, the Church-Based Tutorial Program and a mental health support agency, Wasson said.
“It’s all about expanding opportunities to communities that have been left out of the economic picture,” Wendi Goods Everson, Danville Regional Foundation senior program officer, said during the event.
The $1.4 million project is being paid for with a $550,000 grant from the Danville Regional Foundation, $667,000 from the DRHA and $175,000 from the City of Danville. A remaining $51,000 still needs to be raised to complete construction, and an additional $50,000 is needed to furnish and outfit the facility, Wasson said.
Wasson said the center would not have been possible without the input and direction from more than 100 residents and organizations who met regularly under the Danville Regional Foundation’s Opportunity Neighborhoods initiative.
“All those hopes and dreams and the work ... we can see where the plan is coming together,” Covington said.
The initiative is led by Everson and is designed to help children, families and neighborhoods thrive in three communities — North Danville, Southside and Westside.
All families and children deserve success regardless of where they live, Everson said.
In the summer of 2018, residents in the three neighborhoods set out to create a unified plan to shape their own futures. In that plan, they expressed a desire for a facility to provide innovative programming, recreational opportunities and meeting space.
They also set priorities for improving education, finding youth and parents employment, creating a safe space to play and increasing community connections.
Cardinal Village in southern Danville was constructed as an urban renewal project, and the current youth center has been serving families there for the past 10 years.
“We do big things in Cardinal Village, so we needed a big building,” Covington said of the new learning center that will be built.
The housing authority was formed in 1941 to provide federally- subsidized housing assistance to low-income families in Danville. The authority manages about 500 units under the federal Housing and Urban Development low-income public housing program and five multi-family housing complexes.
The group’s public housing serves about 1,600 residents.
The authority in Danville gets about two-thirds of its money from the federal government and the remaining third from rent paid by residents.