Urban Community School plans new athletic facility

Proposed on Urban Community School’s expanding campus in Cleveland, where Ohio City meets the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, is a new 30,000-square-foot athletic facility. It is being sought to address space constraints in the growing programs of Near West Recreation and other campus partners (Kaczmar). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Facility to be located on West 47th, south of Lorain

When you’re in expansion mode, it’s a pretty good indication that you’re doing something right. Urban Community School’s (UCS) latest manifestation of it doing something right could soon appear at its growing campus where Cleveland’s Ohio City meets the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

South of Lorain Avenue, along the east side of West 47th Street, UCS wants to build a new, stand-alone athletic facility, according to plans submitted to the city’s Building Department this week. This new, top-of-the-line, 30,636-square-foot structure would add to the heavily used gym attached to UCS’s main school building one block west and Urban Squash Cleveland’s busy facility at the southwest corner of Lorain and West 47th.

The as-yet-unnamed athletic facility will offer to the community three courts for various uses including volleyball, basketball and pickleball. Attached to and north of that will be a two-story structure with restrooms, two classrooms, office space and the home of another partner, not yet disclosed.

The new building will rise north of the House of Champions, 2059 W. 47th St., that hosts after-school programs run by Sr. Mary Kay Conkey. House of Champions will soon be breaking ground on an additional house to the south of its current location on the east side of West 47th, filling out the entirety of block.

The purpose of the new facility is to provide something that’s sorely lacking on Cleveland’s West Side – gym space for year-round youth programs provided by Near West Recreation (NWR) and UCS’s other campus partners including Re:Source Cleveland, formerly Refugee Response.

The new athletic facility and site, outlined in red, is proposed to rise on the east side of Urban Community School’s campus. The school’s campus now totals 8.5 acres (Kaczmar).

“We are excited about the myriad opportunities that will become available to UCS students and families. And, as we have in the past, we continue to develop the campus with an eye toward impacing the neighborhoods around us. We are built on partnerships and Near West Rec is a critical one,” said UCS President Tom Gill.

“Near West Rec is constantly looking for gym space,” he added. “We like the partnership and want to host their programs. We’ve been working with them and others on maximizing the existing space we and others have. But there’s just not enough space to avoid the increasing schedule conflicts.”

NWR offers baseball, basketball, bowling, boxing, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, track, volleyball and non-athletic programs year-round for children of all ages and select programs for adults. The availability of programs is based on the extent of funding, staff time, partners and physical space at hand.

NWR has sports leagues with fees based on a sliding-scale system that depends on a registrant’s ability to pay. There is need-based financial assistance available to participants living on Cleveland’s Near West side. Most equipment is provided by NWR, making its programs accessible to all.

Created in 2013, NWR is a partnership between Ohio City Inc., Northwest Neighborhoods Community Development Organization, Tremont West Development Corp., and Metro West Development Organization.

All four sides, or elevations, of the proposed new athletic center are shown here. The two-story headhouse is actually the smallest part of this long structure (Kaczmar).

“We’re going to work with others on maximizing the space in this new facility,” Gill explained. “We’ll make it available for rent to create some revenue. Additional tenants are also possible.”

The new athletic facility, with an estimated price tag of nearly $9 million, is desired by NWR’s sponsors but more support is needed. They have joined with UCS and are working hard to raise the remaining funds necessary to build it.

“From our perspective, this is a wonderful partnership and opportunity for all families and communities served by both Near West Rec and Urban Community School,” said Bridget Kent Márquez, executive director of Northwest Neighborhoods CDC. “This new facility will serve not only current participants, but also allow for expansion of programs and make space for new offerings for the community.”

“Near West Recreation is very excited to be a part of this great partnership opportunity,” said Chris Schmitt, interim director at Ohio City Inc. “We have confidence in Urban Community School delivering another great building that benefits the entire near-West Side.”

UCS has acquired all of the property necessary to build the new athletic facility. That includes properties with several aging, decaying homes and garages on them. They are to be demolished.

Beyond the House of Champions at right is where Urban Community School’s new athletic facility is planned. Built by Knez Homes for after-school programs, the House of Champions will be preserved (Google).

In addition to the new facility, UCS will construct a 27-space parking lot at the north end of the site and use its existing parking lots west of West 47th for additional spaces. Combined, the new and existing vehicular parking will amount to 226 spaces. An electric vehicle parking space will be offered at the athletic facility.

Four bicycle parking spaces will be added, too, bringing the total bike parking capacity on campus to 19 bikes. Between the athletic facility and the Knez Homes-built House of Champions to the south, a greenspace will be provided to offer stormwater retention. The new facility will be buffered by and separated from homes to the east by an existing alley, West 46th Place.

“We are sensitive to our neighbors as we grow our campus footprint,” Gill added. “We now own about 8.5 acres. The neighborhood is a wonderful mix of people and many of our students come from it. Our focus is on the community and we are building spaces that will serve it better.”

UCS was founded in 1968 when schools within the St. Patrick St. Malachi schools merged into Urban Community School, founded by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. St. Wendelin parish joined in 1976. The school relocated from campuses at St. Malachi and St. Wendelin parishes to its current site in 2005 after Arrow International, a manufacturer of bingo supplies and other items, vacated the property and relocated its plant to Clinton Road in Cleveland.

John E. Gallagher Sr., the founder and then-owner of Arrow International, and his family donated the land to UCS. He passed away in 2021 but is remembered with the Gallagher Family Early Education Center that opened that same year. That and other campus expansions have allowed UCS enrollment to nearly double since the 1990s to the 775 children it will serve in the 2024-2025 school year. They range from as young as six weeks old to eighth grade.

This content appears as a courtesy of its sponsor, Urban Community School. All rights reserved.


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