Mount Hope opens community center

Shaun Belle, holding the scissors with Councilwoman Baez, is flanked by many of the people who made the Mount Hope Community Center a reality after more than a decade of planning. The ribbon cutting occurred on June 25. Photo by Victor Chu

Mount Hope Community Center at 55 E. 175 Street had a grand opening with the kind of fanfare that comes after a long, sought-after dream is realized.

The Mount Hope Housing Company, a non-profit housing developer, opened the multi-level learning and recreational facility on Thursday, June 25. The center is built with eco-friendly materials. It is the first green, state-of-the-art community center of its kind in the borough.

The opening, which included a ribbon cutting ceremony, was more than a decade in the making. The local community originally envisioned the center in a quality of life plan prepared when the Mount Hope neighborhood was part a comprehensive community revitalization program.

“Mount Hope has stayed the course in realizing a long held dream of Bronx residents to have a community facility oasis that takes into consideration their educational, health and recreational needs, while establishing the hallmark for future community facilities” said Shaun Belle, its president and CEO.

Constructed on what had been four vacant lots, the building fills a void in terms of providing recreation space. It is a “Green” building fully equipped with an air purification system to decrease allergens that trigger asthma, as well as green roofs and spaces.

Youth and adults will be able to take educational classes, workshops, and seminars while surrounded by an abundance of natural light. The building was designed by its architects to maximize natural lighting and conserve energy.

Councilwoman Maria Baez, National Development Council, Deutsche Bank, and Citibank funded the building of the community center.

“I am fortunate enough to have contributed over $7 million to this project,” said Councilwoman Baez at the dedication. “It is an honor for me to be a part of this vision.”

Additional funds were provided by Bronx Initiative for Energy and Environment, former Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., Independence Community Foundation, Hagedorn Fund, Booth Ferris Foundation, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, JP Morgan Chase, and individual donors.

Mount Hope is one of the first non-profits in the city to combine sustainable/green building design into a project and one of the few nonprofits to use New Market Tax Credits for a community center project.

“I think that the Mount Hope Community Center is a testament to and demonstration of what happens when the public sector, private sector, and community work together,” said Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson at the ceremony.

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