Plans for the Latino Cultural Center are progressing, although it could be expensive to build • Long Beach Post News

The process of developing the concept of El Mercado de Long Beach (“The Long Beach Market”) began last year with prominent Latino leaders serving on a committee and Centro CHA, a non-profit organization serving the Latino community. in Long Beach, organizing awareness meetings. to see what the community wanted in a center.

Some of the main suggestions from the community to date include workforce development and dedicated business and entrepreneur development services. Megan Anaya, analyst at Centro CHA, said the community is also keen to see its history represented with exhibits in the future center.

“Our community is really looking to be accepted and connected to its roots here,” said Anaya.

The Latino population has not always been as large as it is, but the city has seen the population of the ethnic group grow from a figure a few decades ago to almost 43% of the city’s population, according to the most recent census data.

Ron Arias, the city’s former health director who recently had a community center in North Long Beach named after him, said construction of a cultural center like this has been in the works for decades and that it could do a lot to unify the city.

“It’s a big project and it could bring us together,” Arias said. “It allows us to celebrate who we are and, at the end of the day, we are more alike than we are different. “

Although a space for the Mercado has not been selected, community organizations are working to find one near the city center, where there are large concentrations of Latinos living in poverty. Centro CHA and others have hinted that they would like to see the center integrated into the master plan of Drake and Cesar Chavez parks.

According to the presentation, the cultural center would serve not only as an economic development zone, but also as a place where basic needs such as employment opportunities, access to health services and culturally appropriate retail stores could. be located.

But building it won’t be cheap.

Javier Jimenez, director of organization and strategy at Lord Cultural Resources, which helps develop the vision for the center, said new construction could cost up to $ 30 million.

Jimenez said the planned 21,000 square foot center would include outdoor performance areas, exhibition space, education and meditation areas as well as offices for the 18 people who could end up staffing it.

Construction costs could range from $ 12 million to $ 14 million, and ancillary costs like architectural permits and inspections could add an additional $ 5 to 6 million, with around $ 10 million potentially needed to establish an endowment to fund operations, Jimenez said during Tuesday’s presentation.

Renovating an existing building would cost less, but not by much. Jimenez said it would cost around $ 27 million.

Jimenez estimated that the center would need $ 1.3 million per year to break even. By year five, Jimenez predicted he could have an operating budget of around $ 1.6 million, but that would only cover about 23% of operating costs. The rest should be covered by grants, government contributions, corporate sponsorships or endowments.

The next step for the Mercado is a feasibility study that could identify potential sources of funding for the construction of the project and refine possible sites where it could be built.

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