The Housing Authority Board of Directors has approved plans to build a $1.9-million community center at the Estrada Courts housing project.
Construction on the 13,600-square-foot center, which will include a gymnasium, classrooms and preschool, will probably begin within months, said Estrada Courts manager Phillip Chavez.
The Estrada Courts Resident Management Corp., a company run by residents to provide work at the site for residents, will not compete for the job because of the scope of the project, said director Abraham Paez.
But plans will include a provision to hire local workers, Chavez said. "The Housing Authority has emphasized and re-emphasized that there be all kinds of requirements that they hire from among residents," he said.
The work should take about six months to complete. "It's imminent," said Chavez, "especially when you think about the fact that we've been working on it for four years."
Plans for the center include an 8,000-square-foot gym and rooms for job training, child care, senior citizen programs and a stage.
After the project is completed, residents hope to hire a job developer and offer employment clinics, sports and youth programs, and more resources for senior citizens. The center will provide residents with job opportunities as tutors, recreation leaders, child-care workers and computer lab technicians.
The 143-unit complex, at 3232 Estrada St., was built 50 years ago and has become known in the community for its bright and numerous murals on the ends of each building. The center will be built in the middle of the housing project.
The majority of the funding has come from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. An additional $200,000 will be paid by the city Community Development Department.
Residents have been involved in the planning process and will oversee the work as it progresses, Chavez said.
"They're involved all the way through it. At each community meeting, there's a tremendous amount of participation," he said.
"And when the providers are identified, they will come to the community and show their wares on what they plan to do and the residents will have the final say on how this goes."
Housing Authority officials expected to award a bid to a contractor on Friday. Executive Director Donald Smith said he hope construction will start within 30 days after the contract is awarded.