LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland breaks ground for new facility on Detroit Avenue

gay and lesbian center
PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN Wednesday, December 13, 2017; Atrium at Gordon Square Arcade, celebration of the beginning of work on the future home of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland at 6705 Detroit Avenue: (L-R) Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone, Suzanne Hamilton of First Federal of Lakewood, LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland Executive Director Phyllis Harris, Paul Clark of PNC Bank, and LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland Board of Directors member Andrew Thomas.

(Plain Press, January 2018)          The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland is building a new home for the Center which will front on Detroit Avenue in the Gordon Square Arts District.

LGBT Community Center Development Director Shae London says donations from an angel donor will allow the Center to completely own its new building at 6705 Detroit Avenue. Literature about the new facility indicates it will be environmentally friendly with a LEED Silver Certification. The new location will have flexible meeting rooms, space rentals for partner organizations and social events like weddings and anniversaries. The facility will feature a David Bohnett Cyber Center with free public WiFi. It will have a large community drop in space and resource center, a fully operational kitchen, a rooftop patio, street-level entrance and complete physical accessibility.

The architect firm working on the new home for the Center is Weber Murphy. The facility will have a visible façade on Detroit Avenue in the heart of the Gordon Square Arts District. “The Center’s new home will be a versatile and modern facility that will be a visible, tangible symbol of hope, pride and equality of LGBTQ+ and ally-identified individuals in Cleveland and beyond,” says literature passed out at the ground-breaking ceremony for the facility.

At December 13th groundbreaking ceremony, the LGBT Community Center also celebrated a successful fundraising campaign that will provide funding for its future home and set up a $1 million endowment to help fund future programs.

LGBT Community Center Board of Directors Past President Bryan Bowser talked about the history of the organization which was founded in 1975. He noted the move to the lower level of the Gordon Square Arcade in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood fifteen years ago. Bowser said, ten years ago during dark financial times, the Board of Directors of the Center was challenged to plan for the future of the Center. He said the Board was tasked to find a way to continue the services of the Center and to also think about the costs and requirements of a new facility.

In 2014, while the Board of Directors weighed the need for additional space with the need to provide funds raised for continuing its services, education and advocacy to Greater Cleveland’s LGBTQ community, Bowser said a friend of the Center called to inquire about plans to move to a new home. When the friend learned of the financial dilemma faced by the Board of Directors, Bowser said the friend became an Angel Donor, making a large donation of $1.8 million toward the fundraising effort for the new home of the LGBT Community Center at 6705 Detroit Avenue and the expansion of its programming.

According to the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland The Community Blog piece titled “The Center Breaks Ground,” the angel donor continued to donate after the initial donation and “contributed nearly $5 million to cover the cost of the building, including the purchase of the lot, the demolition, new construction and related expenses.”

Bowser said that the angel donation allowed funds being raised to match a $500,000 challenge grant from the Milton & Tamar Maltz Family Foundation to be dedicated to creating an endowment to fund future programs and services of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.  Bowser thanked the angel donor, the foundation and the many donors that contributed matching funds to help create The Center’s $1 million endowment fund.

Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone said, “The Center means so much to this neighborhood.”  Zone praised The Center for its role in advocacy on state and national issues and had praise for Cleveland’s support of the LGBTQ community, saying that he found in his travels as President of the National League of Cities that “It speaks to the soul of a city” when it supports LGBTQ advocacy and works to move policy into action.

Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack, who described himself as an openly gay man, praised the efforts of elected officials such as his predecessor Joe Cimperman, and colleague Matt Zone, who took a stand to advance the rights of the LGBTQ community members through legislation in Cleveland. He also noted Senator Sherrod Brown’s advocacy on the national level. McCormack said in returning to Cleveland after working in Spain, he, personally, felt comfort in knowing he could come to the Center for health care services. McCormack praised the Center for its advocacy on the local, state and national level.

Bowser said it is projected the new home of The LGBT Community Center to be ready in seven to 12 months.

The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland says its mission is “to enrich the lives of the diverse LGBTQ community through advocacy, education, support and celebration.”

“As one of Ohio’s most prominent LGBT community organizations, and the third oldest in the nation, the Center works to enrich the lives of our region’s diverse LGBTQ community through advocacy, support, education and celebration,” says LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland Executive Director Phyllis Harris.

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