More than two decades after it was first proposed, Cecil B. Moore community residents will soon have a new senior citizen center.
City officials broke ground Tuesday afternoon at the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Older Adult Center on 21st Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
The architectural plans for the 10,000-square-foot facility call for an exercise area, a computer lounge, a billiards room, a lunchroom and a full-service kitchen. The $3.4 million project will also rely heavily on sustainable building material, Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said.
Among those in attendance was Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke, who represents the fifth district.
“I want to apologize on behalf of the City of Philadelphia for this taking so long,” Clarke said during the groundbreaking.
“You’ve been waiting a while for this,” he told the crowd, which then cheered in response.
The proposal for a new facility first arose in 1994 but had never gained traction until recently. Clarke said it took so long for the seniors get their own space because they had difficulty securing the funding.
“It took a while to get it all together, especially the state and federal grants,” Clarke said. “Capital projects like this can often take a while.”
Rosalyn Cofer, the center’s program director, was elated to see the project finally break ground.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Cofer said, explaining senior citizens have been sharing a space in the community center next door, which houses dozens of other community programs and is used by more than 500 community members.
“Somebody told me, ‘That shovel is nice, but what I really want to see is a bulldozer,'” Clarke added.
“The bulldozer should be here in two weeks.”
Rob DiRienzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RobDiRienzo.