The only thing holding up a multimillion-dollar planned youth community center for Austin is available land, which the city has yet to offer, according the Austin developer Ade Onayemi, whose firm is overseeing the project.
The Westside Community Youth Multiplex, estimated to cover 40,000 square feet over three acres of land, has private funders lined up said Onayemi, CEO of Urban Resource, Inc.
The center would serve as a multipurpose facility for youth, preschoolers and adults, with a gymnasium, educational programs, an adult job training center and offices for government agencies and elected officials.
The center would also hold an auditorium and banquet hall to be used by the community.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $20 million. The facility itself would cost $10-12 million. Another $8-10 million would go into a foundation, said Onayemi.
The Chicago Department of Planning has agreed to allocate a site in Austin or the West Side, but has yet to follow through.
“The main obstacle is the site,” said Onayemi. “Once we get the site, I think we will be able to move.”
The Westside Ministers Coalition is among the community partners involved in building the youth center. Onayemi said the partners are looking for a site that’s either unoccupied or scheduled for demolition.
“The last thing we want to do is evict or buy anyone out,” he said. “We want this to enhance economic development, not impede it.”
The center would also have to be able to sustain itself through for-profit ventures, said Onayemi, who added that future fundraising efforts were on hold until a site is at least chosen.
“Until we get the site, I wouldn’t want to push that, but on the other hand, we don’t want to lose that interest,” he said. “I am afraid that if we fall off the radar [of funders], we won’t be able to get back.”